The Pentagon is sending a record number of mental-health professionals into combat zones in Afghanistan to meet the needs of U.S. troops, USA Today reported Nov. 9.
George Wright, a spokesman for the Army, said the military will send more mental-health workers to Afghanistan despite the recent shootings at Fort Hood. Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist who allegedly killed 13 people in the attack, was a member of the 1493rd Combat Stress Control team, which was about to be deployed to Afghanistan. At least three of the people Hasan allegedly killed were therapists who were also heading to the war zone.
Some 45 uniformed mental-health workers are currently stationed in Afghanistan. The psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers are trying to break the stigma that prevents soldiers from seeking treatment for anger management, handling grief, sleep disorders, addictions, and suicidal thoughts.
“Flying mental-health care providers exclusively to servicemembers who need help is unprecedented,” said Col. Carl Castro, a psychologist and head of the Army Military Operational Medicine research program. “It's almost like the EMTs (emergency medical technicians) that you see on the interstate when they block the road and land the helicopter. It's just never been done.”