Pentagon Faces Dilemma on Mental-Health Rest
MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
But as NPR's Tom Bowman reports, soldiers and Marines are not being given what mental-health experts say they really need, namely more time away from combat.
TOM BOWMAN: Army Colonel Carl Castro is a member of the Mental Health Advisory Team.
CARL CASTRO: The longer are soldiers deployed the more likely they are to have a mental-health issue. So, of course, we're very, very concerned about it.
BOWMAN: The taskforce recommends at least a year and a half between tours of duty. Major General Gale Pollock heads the Army Medical Command.
GALE POLLOCK: Shorter deployments or longer intervals between deployments would allow soldiers and Marines better opportunities to reset mentally before returning to combat.
BOWMAN: Has that been put into effect?
CASTRO: No, not to my knowledge. It has not been.
BOWMAN: General Pollock says this reluctance is understandable.
POLLOCK: These men and women have been seeing their friends injured, and I think that having that thought is normal.
BOWMAN: That's where training and leadership comes in, making sure troops do the right thing. Gary Solis is a Marine veteran of the Vietnam War and a lawyer who has studied war crimes. He found those statistics troubling.
GARY SOLIS: It tells me that they're disregarding orders and training. I think this may be considered a subset of this unacceptably high operational tempo as well. It's dismaying but I'm not shocked.
BOWMAN: Tom Bowman, NPR News, Washington.
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