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Long way back for U.S. veterans with mental disorder

(Xinhua)

13:49, February 21, 2012

TAMPA, the United States, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- Upon returning home in February 2009 from his two deployments in Iraq, Kevin White, a 29-year-old former U.S. infantryman now living in Somers, Montana, started having nightmares and flashbacks.

Only then White realized that he had developed a kind of mental disorder called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is usually associated with anxiety, sleeplessness and short-term memory loss.

"That's when I knew that I needed help and needed to talk to somebody," White told Xinhua in an interview.

White is just one example of a large number of U.S. veterans suffering from PTSD after returning home from combat operations in Iraq or Afghanistan during the past decade. It has become a growing and current sociological trend in the United States to deal with the illness among war veterans.

Two events led to the PTSD suffered by White, who was injured during an ambush in Iraq and currently undergoing physical therapy at a local hospital run by the U.S. Veterans Administration (VA).

"In my first deployment in 2005, I saw a suicidal bomber near Telfar, Iraq," recalled White, "A woman carrying a baby walked into a public square. The baby had a bomb strapped to it and the woman detonated the bomb. Over 100 people died."

"The second event was when my unit was ambushed and I was injured. A piece of shrapnel went through my shoulder and into one of my lungs," he said.

At one point in the decade-long U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, almost 50 percent of all airmen, marines, sailors and soldiers who were deployed to one or both countries reported having both depression and PTSD.

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