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Indiana Prevention Resource Center (IPRC)

Thinking Ahead to Memorial Day

This article is the first in a series of three articles on the military leading up to Memorial Day of 2012.

Indiana has made a significant contribution to the U.S. military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan since September 11, 2001. Data from the Citizen Soldier Support Program, www.citizensoldiersupport.org , based at the University of North Carolina, inform us as to the numbers of Indiana service members and their dependents, as best as can be determined using their reported last county of residence.

There had been 15,007 reserve component service members deployed to OIF/OEF since 9/11/2001 as of 12/31/2010. The counties of residence with the largest numbers or reservists are Marion with 1,792 and Allen with 1,104. Others with more than 500 include Lake with 674 and St. Joseph with 509. Hamilton, Johnson, Vanderburgh, and Vigo all had over 400 reserve component members deployed. (A 2011 update may be available later this year.)

By branch of service, the two largest groups were 9,039 members of the Army National Guard and 2,606 members of the Army Reservists. Air National Guard numbered 1,526; Air Force Reserve, 1,011; Marine Reserve, 727; and Navy Reserve, 97. A single Coast Guard Reservist was deployed.

After their return reservists face especially large challenges due to their relative isolation from military bases, given that they return to their home communities rather than to military compounds. This lack of proximity to military bases means greater difficulty accessing not only the personal support system of companions who shared their experience, but also of medical support. Data about relative distance from the nearest VA facilities reveals that many members of the reserve component must travel substantial distances to reach the nearest VA facility. Forty-six percent of the reserve component service members deployed to OIF – OEF since 9-11 must drive at least 1 hour to reach the nearest VA Medical Center; 35.6% must drive 1-2 hrs to reach the nearest community-based outpatient clinic or Vet Center; and nearly 69% must drive at least 1 hour to reach the nearest VA Outpatient Clinic, and 46.8 % must drive 2-3 hours to reach their nearest VA Outpatient Clinic (as distinct from a community-based outpatient clinic).

With regard to active (as contrasted to reservists) military service members from Indiana who have been deployed to Iraq (OIF) or Afghanistan (OEF) since 9-11, we know that as of March 31, 2011, Indiana had contributed 6,967 men and women. Three Indiana by county maps can be viewed at http://www.unc.edu/cssp/datacenter/Active%20Component/Indiana.pdf. These maps also display by county the number of these service members’ families who are eligible for VA services and the number of their families considered ineligible. For the state as a whole, these deployed service members had a total of 8,052 eligible dependents and 587 ineligible dependents as of 3/31/2011. (CSSP, 2012)

It is the mission of the Indiana Prevention Resource Center to strengthen a behavioral support system that provides prevention, treatment and recovery; and we are especially concerned to see that these services reach our military service members, veterans and their families. (This article uses data available through www.vetresources.org, an IPRC searchable database created for this purpose.)

The stresses of military service markedly increase the risks of behavioral health problems, including substance abuse and mental health issues. This is especially true for those who serve in wartime, in combat zones, for those who suffer traumatic events and/or injuries, and for their families.  

Many veterans of combat in recent wars are returning home with anxiety disorders, particularly PTSD. About 30 percent of those who spend time in a war zone suffer from PTSD at time of discharge and another 20 to 25 percent will experience partial symptoms. (Nebraska Department of Veterans Affairs, 2007) Estimates of returning veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq with PTSD range from a RAND 2008 study result of 13.8% (Gradus, 2011) to 20 percent (Johnson, 2011). Rates of PTSD and depression have been found to increase markedly among National Guard twelve months post‐deployment, while rates remained unchanged among active military. (Carollo, 2010)

We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to all of the Indiana men and women who have served during times of war and times of peace. According to the latest data displayed on the Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics, Veteran Population web page www.va.gov/vetdata/veteran/_population.asp), Indiana veterans number 491,600, including 33,300 women. Indiana has 40,100 veterans of World War II, 50,200 of the Korean Conflict, 166,100 of the Vietnam Era, and 111,800 of the Gulf War. It includes 357,400 wartime and 134,200 peacetime veterans. The data currently displayed on the VA web site states as of 9/30/2010. In the past nearly two years since then, many of our World War II veterans have passed. This Memorial Day season let’s make an effort to show our appreciation to all of our veterans of recent times and times long past.

For more information and online resources for military personnel, veterans, their families and service providers, see the IPRC searchable database, www.vetresources.org , also linked from the IPRC homepage. This is a rich collection of web sites, online videos, research, publications and data with descriptions and a link to each resource. Stay tuned in for a second article in this 3-part series, on “Caring for the Mental Health of Our Active Military Service Members, Veterans and Families,” coming next Monday. The third article will address substance abuse and other addiction-related issues.

Select Bibliography

Carollo, Kim. (2010) Combat’s Hidden Toll: 1 in 10 Soldiers Report Mental Health Problems,” ABC News. Retrieved 10‐31‐2011 from http://abcnews.go.com/Health/MindMoodNews/10‐soldiers‐foughtiraq‐mentally‐ill/story?id=10850315

Citizen Soldier Support Program. CSSP Mapping and Data Center. (2012) Number of Reserve Component Service Members Deployed to OIF/OEF since September 11, 2001. Retrieved 4-6-2012 from http://www.unc.edu/cssp/datacenter/RC/Indiana.pdf , Accessed 4/6/2012.

Citizen Soldier Support Program. CSSP Mapping and Data Center. (2012) Number of Active Component Service Members Deployed to OIF/OEF since September 11, 2001. Retrieved 4-6-2012 from http://www.unc.edu/cssp/datacenter/Active%20Component/Indiana.pdf.

Gradus, Jaimie L. (2011) Epidemiology of PTSD. Department of Veterans Affairs. National Center for PTSD. Retrieved 10‐31‐2011 from http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/pages/epidemiological‐facts‐ptsd.asp

Nebraska Department of Veterans Affairs. (2007) Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Retrieved 10‐31‐2011 from http://www.ptsd.ne.gov/what‐is‐ptsd.html

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics. Veteran Population. Retrieved 4-6-2012 from http://www.va.gov/vetdata/veteran_population.asp, 2012. Accessed 4/6/2012.

By Barbara Seitz de Martinez, 5/7/2012