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Mental Health Issues Common At Enlistment

US Army troops run out of a Stryker armored vehicle as part of a military exercise. (AP/Dinesh Gupta)

US Army troops run out of a Stryker armored vehicle as part of a military exercise. (AP/Dinesh Gupta)

Researchers from Harvard Medical School surveyed more than 5,000 soldiers at Army installations across the country and found that almost 85 percent of those soldiers reported having a mental health problem before they even entered the military.

Between 2004 to 2009, suicide rates doubled among soldiers who served in Iraq or Afghanistan, while they tripled among soldiers who never even deployed, which raises a whole host of questions about mental health screening, support, and the military.

The work was published as three papers in JAMA psychiatry. It was funded by the Army and the National Institute of Mental Health.


Ronald Kessler, McNeil Family Professor of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School and principal investigator for Army STARRS, which studied the risk and protective factors for suicide among Army personnel.


Commonhealth “(M)any men and women reported developing new conditions while in the service. The soldiers’ anxiety, depression and PTSD were layered onto their existing problems.”

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