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Healthline Connects

Home From Iraq: HBO, James Gandolfini Focus on New Veterans


Depression is a serious problem for returning veterans of the Iraq war and their needs are going unmet. Returning veterans report feelings of alienation from their homes and families. The psychological problems, be they depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are creating havoc in family life, with almost half of veterans reporting family conflict or other relationship troubles upon returning from service.

The Veteran Resources Website has rich resources for family members concerned about loved ones with signs of mental illness or distress. That's just not enough though to prevent the alarming public health crisis that is the high suicide rate found in returning veterans. Mark Kaplan MD of Portland State University, has published a study finding that male veterans are twice as likely to commit suicide as civilian males. Oddly, being overweight seemed to confer protection against suicide by 50%. Dr. Kaplan states that being a veteran is a risk factor for suicide, especially for males.

Last week the Pentagon was forced to acknowledge that the suicide rate among returning veterans is the highest it has been in 26 years. Morale is extremely low, troops report little faith in their commanding officers. Problem relationships, legal and financial problems upon returning home are the reasons cited for suicide. "...there was a significant relationship between number of days deployed...and limited evidence to support the view that multiple deployments are a risk factor for suicide behaviors..."


The biggest threat to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan is improvised explosive devices (IED). Experts describe a mind set needed of constant vigilance - no place is safe. There is no safe haven. There is no down time. Devastating injuries from the war are the focus of a new HBO film by Executive Producer James Gandolfini, Alive Day Memories: Home From Iraq.
In this new documentary which first airs September 9, 10:30 PM exclusively on HBO, Gandolfini interviews 10 veterans about their "alive day" - the day they suffered devastating injuries and lived to tell about it. Healthline will be featuring more posts about this event as we approach the date. We are honored to help HBO promote the important message of the film.

Thank you Cpl. Joseph DiGirolamo for use of photo of Lance Corporal William A. Staley while stationed in Iraq, 5/2006.
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