Stigmatization, Culture of Toughness Hamper Progress for U.S. Military Mental Health Care

As the U.S. soldier accused of slaughtering 16 civilians in Afghanistan on Sunday makes his way back to the United States, the base where the suspect hails from is coming under scrutiny for its controversial record when it comes to military mental health.

The soldier in custody, described as a 38-year-old staff sergeant who had served three tours in Iraq before arriving for his deployment in Afghanistan in December, was previously based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington. He had reportedly suffered from a traumatic brain injury earlier in his career, and his attorney has suggested that a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) defense is likely.

"The military has an increasing amount of financial and personnel resources devoted to mental health, and they have done the best they can considering the other obligations they have to win wars," Dr. Bret A. Moore, a military mental health consultant who has authored books on treating PTSD and adjusting to life after deployment, told Trend Lines. "But it is almost impossible to keep up with the demand. And as we have just pulled out of Iraq, and as we start to come out of Afghanistan, it's going to become even more difficult, because we're going to have even more soldiers coming back home and needing care."

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