More Lewis-McChord soldiers seek mental help

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JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. (AP) -- Officials at Joint Base Lewis-McChord say they're hopeful that they're making progress against the stigma that keeps some soldiers from getting help for mental health issues.

The News Tribune of Tacoma reports that more soldiers and military families are reaching out for mental health care at the base, and post-traumatic stress diagnoses and prescriptions for common antidepressants are on the rise at Madigan Army Medical Center.

What's not clear is how much of that increased pace is the result of distress caused by combat and long separations, and how much is the result of sheer numbers. More than half of the base's 40,000 service members were gone from mid-2009 to mid-2010.

Madigan's commander, Col. Dallas Homas, says soldiers are far more willing to seek behavioral health than they used to be.

At Lewis-McChord, doctors say they're busier than ever counseling recent war veterans. Diagnoses for post-traumatic stress, acute stress disorder or an anxiety disorder increased 24 percent, from 1,140 service members in 2009 to 1,418 service members in 2010.