ENGL 1310 TTH 7-8:20
October 20, 2009
Military Deployment and the Effects on its Soldiers
Recent wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Korea, and other locations throughout the world have resulted in the most sustained military combat operations since the Vietnam Conflict. As a result, soldiers in the military are finding themselves subjected to longer deployments, and faster redeployment times than in any other combat operations. While these steps are necessary to maintain the high level of military operations currently in progress, the negative effects of longer deployments on the families, soldiers, and the military in general far outweigh the benefits. A study by the RAND Army Research Division in 2002 showed that the length of deployment for a soldier serving overseas had increased almost twofold since 1994, and in some cases, had tripled (Polich & Sortor, 8). This trend began with missions to Bosnia in 1995, and has steadily increased through the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Prior to the Bosnia conflict, the average total days spent overseas by the military for one year was tow and half million days. Current numbers show average deployment bases at up to eight million (Polich & Sortor, 8). In addition to the increase in overall deployments, redeployment has also increased in recent years. In 1994, nearly 8,000 soldiers were redeployed within three years to an overseas operation. Currently, this number has risen to nearly 16,000 redeployments within a three-year period (Polich & Sortor, 10). The length of those deployments increased as well. In 1994, the average deployment time for an individual soldier was 120 days (Polich & Sortor, 12). According to the office of the U.S. Army Public Affairs, current soldiers in Iraq face deployment of one year or more (Albert, A6). In some cases, soldiers are kept on active duty and redeployed even beyond their anticipated discharge from the service. The program, called stop loss, went into effect for reservists November of 2002. Stop loss allows the military to retain individuals scheduled for discharge or for a status change to non-active duty, based on the idea that, by keeping units together, those units will work more efficiently and effectively. The program allows retention of soldiers for three months prior to and three months following deployment (Albert, A6). The negative impact of longer deployments overseas and extended duty in active combat is well documented. The short term and long term problems associated affect the soldier, the soldier’s family, the military in general, and even the economy. From the ability of the military to recruit new soldiers to the morale of the individuals, longer deployments continue to cause problems in the military services. One major area of concern relating to longer deployments is that of the mental health impact on the soldiers. A study in 2004 evaluated soldiers reports of experiences in war zones in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and noted reports of perceived physiological and psychological distressors (Litz, 1). The results indicated that the risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was as high as twenty-seven percent in the Iraq war, and as high as twenty percent in the Afghanistan mission (Litz, 1). PTSD, a psychological condition resulting from trauma, can cause many problematic symptoms, such as withdrawal from others, extreme anxiety, flashbacks, night terrors, and other problematic symptoms. Much research has been dedicated to the subject of PTSD, and these studies have found that military deployments, both in combat zones and in peacekeeping missions, are highly associated with increased levels of PTSD and other related disorders (Creamer, 184). Additionally, studies have shown that more frequent and more intense involvement in combat operations elevates the risk for development of PTSD, and that PTSD severity is, in some...