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Troop Morale Down, Mental Health Problems Up in Afghanistan

Troop Morale Down, Mental Health Problems Up in Afghanistan

"...70 to 80 percent of troops...said they had seen a buddy killed or wounded."

WASHINGTON (The Blaze/AP) — A new report says American troops in Afghanistan are suffering with the highest rates of mental health problems since 2005 and that morale has plummeted.

The report, released Thursday, furnished the first detailed glimpse of the psychological cost of a campaign commanders and officials say has reversed the momentum of the insurgency. Among other things, it says the dramatic increase in fighting there is one of the key factors affecting the mental health of the uniformed forces. For instance, some 70 to 80 percent of troops surveyed for the report said they had seen a buddy killed or wounded.

The report also said that the psychological problems may actually be fewer than expected, given the high level of combat troops are seeing. And the military said it has doubled the mental health staff in the country to help troops cope with their problems.

The data comes from a mental health team that polled more than 900 soldiers, 335 Marines and 85 mental health workers on the Afghan battlefield during last July and August, as troops surged into the country under the Obama administration's new strategy for fighting the insurgency.

Baring in mind the fact that the aforementioned troop study was conducted in 2010, changes in troop morale since then have not yet been examined.  Earlier this month, the Montgomery Advertiser reported on U.S. Rep. Martha Roby's trip to Afghanistan.  Upon returning she claimed that troop morale is high following Osama bin Laden's death.

"It had an extremely positive impact on the morale of our troops," said Roby. "This is a significant moment in history for the United States. With that being said, we realize there is much to do. We don't just stop because Osama bin Laden is dead."

President Barack Obama sent an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan last year to build the force to the current 100,000. Commanders and administration officials say the push has weakened the Taliban, and a limited troop withdrawal is planned by this July.

The new mental health study also reaffirms the long-held view on the price paid for repeated tours of duty: mental health problems were greater for troops on their third or fourth deployment.

The military says it boosted the mental health staff in the country to one for every 646 soldiers last year compared, compared to one for every 1,123 in 2009.

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