Gen. Pace meets with PTSD patients

Aug. 20, 2007 at 5:18 PM
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HONOLULU, Aug. 20 (UPI) -- U.S. Marine Gen. Peter Pace met with soldiers being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder to show support for soldiers affected by psychological injuries.

Pace met with the men at the Department of Veterans Affairs PTSD Residential Recovery Program in Honolulu at the Tripler Army Medical Center on Saturday.

Pace called the psychological wounds affecting soldiers just as devastating as physical wounds. During the meeting, the general asked the men about their wounds.

“I use that term specifically to include you,” Pace said, in a statement. “Because it doesn’t matter if it was psychological or physical, you were wounded in service to your country, and we need to do all we can to make you better.”

Officials say active duty service members often go undiagnosed and will abuse alcohol or drugs, and some have problems relating to family and friends. Because of the problems that can arise without the recognition of PTSD some of the soldiers end up receiving Article 15 non-judicial punishments or will be discharged.

“No one wants to say that they may have a problem -- it might delay the start of block leave,” said Kenneth A. Hirsch, the director of the traumatic stress disorders program for the VA. “It also might affect the way others -- superiors -- regard them as somehow damaged goods.”

Hirsch said that junior leaders and non-commissioned officers should be educated to recognize the signs of PTSD and to get help early. After the meeting, Pace said he was impressed with the treatment they’re receiving.

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