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Mental Health On The Forgotten Front

While troop morale in Iraq improved slightly over the past year, the same isn�t true on the front of the forgotten war in Afghanistan. In fact, soldiers fighting in Afghanistan suffered more depression as violence there worsened, an Army mental health report says. [ABC]

The Associated Press reports: �And in a recurring theme for a force strained by its seventh year at war, the annual battlefield study found once again that soldiers on their third and fourth tours of duty had sharply greater rates of mental health problems than those on their first or second deployments, according to several officials familiar with the report.�

The mental issues faced by troops in Afghanistan run the gamut from anxiety and depression to post-combat stress.

Meanwhile, as many as 121 Army soldiers committed suicide in 2007, an increase of about 20 percent over the year before.

Statistically speaking, the state of troops� mental health in Afghanistan is roughly equal to that of troops� serving in Iraq during 2007.

The percentage reporting depression in Afghanistan, however, was higher than that in Iraq, and mental health problems in general were higher than they had previously been in Afghanistan.

Insight: A troop�s mental health is often directly linked to the amount of direct combat s/he sees. Last year, the levels of violence in Afghanistan skyrocketed to the point where some 83 percent of soldiers in Afghanistan reported being exposed to mortar fire and similar action. That�s compared to 72 percent in Iraq.

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