Combat and operational Stress in the Military Unit
Military personnel are deployed in handling various duties that are in line with security and state’s defence. At some point, they are entitled to military actions, which amount to battles, environmental changes, reduced quality of life, and international wars, especially on the current intense war on terrorism. As a result, they are vulnerable to behavioural disorganization due to the scenes that occur while they are delegating their duties. Therefore, combat stress is the physiological, behavioural, and psychosocial reactions that military people endure during and after a combat that impact their behavioural aspects (Solomon, 2005). During a combat experience, people are entitled to unfavourable conditions, such as poor diet, unfavourable temperatures, lack of personal hygiene, and long-term seclusion from their family members (Hans & Oak, 2007). In light of this, combat and operational stress is an issue that has attracted much attention from scholars and medical practitioners, as they aim at helping the military community. This paper delineates the issue of combat stress including the effects and recommendations that can be used to improve the negative impacts of this issue.
According to the National Comorbidity Survey-Replication study released by the U.S Department of Health & Human Services in 2005 indicates that around 7.7 million American adults have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This number is largely contributed by military personnel and veterans who have been in the battle fields. A report compiled by the Veterans’ Mental Health Charity Organization indicates that it received 358 new Afghanistan veteran referrals in 2013 and 228 in 2012. The United States recorded a 57% increase in the number of Afghanistan veterans seeking Combat stress from 2012 to 2013. This issue can be dated back to the period of international world wars. During the First World War, the word “shell shock” was invented that meant a psychological trauma that men suffered as a result of intense combat experience (Hans& Oak, 2007). Those who survived during the war had adverse effects in regards to their social-cultural aspects and health conditions. In World War II, battle fatigue was coined in relations to the physical stressors, cumulative exposure, and other war factors (Hans & Oak, 2007). Combat stress continued to the 21st century with incidences recorded during the Vietnam and Iraq wars. The situation worsened when military officers who had fought in the Vietnam wars were redeployed to the Iraq war. According to Hoge (2004), 20% of the 1709 redeployed soldiers and marines elicited mental disorders after a PSTD screening four months after returning from the battle field.
Combat and operational stress reactions may affect military personnel in various areas of their jurisdiction and life after retiring. The adverse effects may include personal injuries, witnessing killing of a colleague, long-term injury resulting from loss of a body part, and witnessing inhuman acts on innocent civilians. Operational stress include prolonged exposure to extreme geographical environments, reduced quality of life, exposure to a series of injuries, change of attitude and moral aspects, and severe health conditions(Solomon, 2005). Physical disorder is one of the most significant negative effects of combat and operational stress. An individual may be injured permanently or lose a part of the body part. Similarly, mental imbalance and disorder is largely associated with the combat stresses. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is among the mental impairments that combatant’s experience (Solomon, 2005). At some point, they have extensive anxiety, irritability, nightmares, memory loss, insomnia, nausea among other mild stress reactions. In most cases, the military veterans are unable to engage in any other viable responsibility. As a result, they remain dependent on their relatives and they might not receive the requisite care they need.
On the other hand, combat and operational stresses have positive effects on the combatants. First, the military soldiers are known for their discipline and loyalty to the rule of the law. They are trained to accord respect to the other person, especially those in authority. Secondly, combatants are hyper vigilant and super active when they are handling their activities (Hoge, 2004). They stay alert and they are able to detect a threat any time. Thirdly, combatants are very united and they embrace teamwork in their operations. They learn to trust in their peers and work with each other as unit. This is a positive effect because they can contribute to national building responsibilities as a unit.
In conclusion, combat and operational stresses have significant adverse consequences; hence, the following are some of recommendations that can aid in remedying this issue. Firstly, soldiers should be trained prior to the combat experience so that they can be aware of the operational stresses. Secondly, there should be a program that takes care of veterans both health wise and financially (Solomon, 2005). Additionally, they should try as much as possible not to redeploy soldiers who have participated in a war to allow them to recuperate and heal from combat stress. Therefore, combat and operational stress is a significant issue in the military operations that should be addressed.
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Hoge, C. W., Castro, C. A., Messer, S. C., McGurk, D., Cotting, D. I., &Koffman, R. L.(2004). Combat duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, mental health problems, and barriers to care. The New England Journal of Medicine, 351, 13-22.
Solomon, Z; Shklar, R; Mikulincer, M (December 2005). “Frontline treatment of combat stress reaction: a 20-year longitudinal evaluation study”. The American Journal of Psychiatry 162 (12), 2309–2314.