WASHINGTON – More than one-third of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans seeking medical treatment from the Veterans Health Administration report symptoms of stress or other mental disorders – a tenfold increase in the last 18 months, according to an agency study.
The dramatic jump in cases – coming as more troops face multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan – has triggered concern among some veterans groups that the agency may not be able to meet the demand. They say veterans have had to deal with long waits for doctor appointments, staffing shortages and lack of equipment at medical centers run by the Veterans Affairs Department.
Contributing to the higher levels of stress are the long and often repeated tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Iraq, troops also face unpredictable daily attacks and roadside bombings as they battle the stubborn insurgency.