According to some estimates, the average infantryman in the South Pacific duringWorld War II saw about 40 days of combat in four years. In contrast, the OPTEMPO in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade has remained persistently high, providing very few opportunities for individuals to rest, either physically or mentally. Most Soldiers today have deployed at least once; many have deployed two or more times on 12‐15 month rotations. Nearly two‐thirds of those Soldiers who deployed had less than 24 months of “dwell” time spent back at home, resetting, retraining, and recuperating before deploying again. Simply stated, for over a decade nearly every leader and Soldier serving in our Army has lived in a near constant state of anticipation – whether anticipating an upcoming deployment, anticipating the next mission or convoy, or anticipating the challenges of returning home. The prolonged stress and strain on them – and on their Families – must be effectively addressed.
This is an excerpt from a new report detailing the progress made in meeting the needs of our troops, veterans and their families but it also describes the enormity of the suffering many continue to endure. Suicide rates are alarmingly high, sex crimes are up, prescription drug use is rising… the toll of multiple deployments is enormous. The report, “Army 2020: Generating Health & Discipline in the Force,” is available for download. One of the areas in which much more work is needed is in the prevention of and response to sexual violence. At a press conference, Army vice chief of staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli said:
“What concerns me the most is an increase in violent sex crime offenders by 64 percent from 2006 to 2011. This is unacceptable. We have zero tolerance for this. Army leaders take sexual assault seriously. We’re expanding our surveillance and response against these crimes. We’ve identified numerous sex crime factors, such as alcohol and the newly designed barracks that offer privacy, coupled with a lack of leadership.
This impacts the youngest and most junior female Soldiers and the perpetrators mirror that age, he said.
“We also had an increase in 2006 to 2011 in domestic violence. It increased by 33 percent, from 293 to 383. And our child-abuse cases increased by 43 percent in that time period from 201 to 287.
Alcohol, associated with domestic violence, increased by 54 percent, and with child abuse by 40 percent, he said.
“And research informs us that PTS is a factor in partner aggression. A person diagnosed with PTS is three times more likely to participate in some kind of partner aggression.
“That is why it is so critical to eliminate the stigma associated with PTS and get people in for treatment for their alcohol problem, their drug-abuse problem, prescription drug-abuse problem, or anger-management problems, spouse abuse and child abuse. That to me is critical. And the National Institute of Mental Health lays this out as not just an Army problem, this is a national problem.