U.S. Army Surgeon General: Many soldiers with personality disorders can perform well

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Saturday, July 8, 2006

The U.S. Army's surgeon general, Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, told reporters Friday that soldiers exhibiting personality disorders would not be automatically discharged because many can continue to perform their duties well. However, the army did discharge more than 1,000 soldiers last year for personality disorders. Among them was Steven Dale Green, who now stands accused of raping a young Iraqi female and murdering her and her family.

Kiley also said; "There is something very demanding and tough about being in combat. And anything that would be perceived as being weak and not ready and tough carries with it some stigma."

U.S. Defense Department officials announced last month that they have set up a task force to study the mental health of American troops. The 14-member Mental Health Task Force’s primary job is to produce a required report for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Congress before June 2007 that lays out a long-term plan to improve the effectiveness of the military’s mental health treatments, according to a Pentagon press release.

On May 4, prior to the creation of the task force, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer said the military faces a "mental health crisis" and criticized the Pentagon for inaction. In a letter to Rumsfeld, Boxer noted that 25 soldiers committed suicide in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2005, up from 20 soldiers the year before.

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