Mental Health for Veterans

May 14, 2009 10:07:40 PM PDT
When a U.S. Soldier opened fire on five of his comrades at a U.S. Military base in Baghdad earlier this week ... It put the mental health of America's troops in the spotlight.The soldier opened fire at a health clinic at Camp Victory on Monday. He was reportedly a 20 year veteran ... serving his third tour in Iraq. Randall Reyes did back to back tours in Afghanistan and Iraq as a Marine. He says back to back deployments can cause even the toughest soldier to crack.

Randall Reyes said, "They go on deployment and they come home and they start getting adjusted to the civilian lifestyle again to their families then they get word that they're going back out on deployment and now it becomes a struggle."

Fresno's Veterans Hospital anticipated the increased need for mental health services two years ago. It hired two additional psychiatrists and more than 20 extra staff members ... Next week the hospital will break ground on a new mental health building.

Dr. Dwayne Depry is one of the new psychiatrists ... he's also an Iraq veteran ... he says its critical servicemen and women get mental health help before they even leave the war zone.

"Think of it as a snowball ... the longer you let this go ... the bigger and the bigger it gets ... the more steam it builds up, the harder it is to stop," said Dr. DePry.

Vince Garcia agrees ... he served as a Marine in Iraq and says he doesn't sleep most nights ... he carries guilt from the war.

"They teach you how to fight ... they teach you how to kill ... but they don't teach you after the fact how to deal with the things you had to do. And I think a lot of times people come back and they have guilt about that because they're shooting somebody they never met. It's kinda hard to explain," said Garcia.

With tough Marines like Garcia and Reyes willing to talk about their stress ... and the military acknowledging the need to address the problem ... perhaps more veterans can and will get the help they need.

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