The conversation about mental health has become more mainstream than ever before and an important part of that conversation is about our military community and the health of its troops. More than 2,000,000 service members have been deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq with nearly one third suffering from a clinically significant mental condition.
Since the year 2000 there have been nearly 400,000 traumatic brain injury (TBI) diagnoses in U.S. service members with more than 10,000 new injuries reported each year. The types of TBI can vary based on the nature of the injury and the symptoms of traumatic brain injuries can stretch across physical, cognitive, and sensory planes. It’s also not uncommon for TBI cases to lead to post-traumatic stress (PTS) and PTS symptoms. The National Alliance on Mental Illness identifies PTS and depression as the most commonly occurring mental health challenges facing U.S. military personnel. So common, in fact, that it’s estimated that up to 20% of service members who have served in either Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) or Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq) have been diagnosed with some form of PTS. A 2014 study by JAMA Psychiatry found that cases of PTS in service members were 15 times higher than civilians and depression rates were five times higher.
The silver lining here is that the crucial need to address TBI and PTS in service members has gained attention in recent years. Due to certain stigmas surrounding mental health and mental health treatment, implementing military mental health support has not come easily. However with increased awareness and visibility, the stigmas are slowly being broken down, and service members are showing more willingness to reach out for the help and treatment that they need.
That is why the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund has made it our mission to make this treatment available to as many service members as possible across the country. In 2010 IFHF opened the National Intrepid Center of Excellence (NICoE) at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. Our current mission is constructing a network of 10 smaller satellite centers called Intrepid Spirit Centers to expand the availability of the interdisciplinary model of care designed at NICoE. Seven Intrepid Spirit Centers have been completed and the eighth is now underway. These centers have treated over 200,000 individuals to date and have enabled more than 90% of patients to continue on Active Duty with many of their symptoms reduced or controlled.
Our mission is publicly funded, an effort to address a critical need facing our nation’s boldest and bravest. The mental health of our military community needs to be a priority, and that’s why we’ve made it ours. Support the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund mission today with a donation.
Posted on May 20 2019 in Blog