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Thread: Majority of Soldiers in Iraq Say Morale Is Low

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    Majority of Soldiers in Iraq Say Morale Is Low

    Majority of Soldiers in Iraq Say Morale Is Low
    By ROBERT BURNS, AP

    Army report says 54 percent of soldiers rated their units' morale as low or very low.

    WASHINGTON (July 20) - A majority of U.S. soldiers in Iraq say morale is low, according to an Army report that finds psychological stress is weighing particularly heavily on National Guard and Reserve troops.

    Still, soldiers' mental health has improved from the early months of the insurgency, and suicides have declined sharply, the report said. Also, substantially fewer soldiers had to be evacuated from Iraq for mental health problems last year.

    The Army sent a team of mental health specialists to Iraq and Kuwait late last summer to assess conditions and measure progress in implementing programs designed to fix mental health problems discovered during a similar survey of troops a year earlier. Its report, dated Jan. 30, 2005, was released Wednesday.

    The initial inquiry was triggered in part by an unusual surge in suicides among soldiers in Iraq in July 2003. Wednesday's report said the number of suicides in Iraq and Kuwait declined from 24 in 2003 to nine last year.

    A suicide prevention program was begun for soldiers in Iraq at the recommendation of the 2003 assessment team.

    The overall assessment said 13 percent of soldiers in the most recent study screened positive for a mental health problem, compared with 18 percent a year earlier. Symptoms of acute or post-traumatic stress remained the top mental health problem, affecting at least 10 percent of all soldiers checked in the latest survey.

    In the anonymous survey, 17 percent of soldiers said they had experienced moderate or severe stress or problems with alcohol, emotions or their families. That compares with 23 percent a year earlier.

    The report said reasons for the improvement in mental health are not clear. Among possible explanations: less frequent and less intense combat, more comforts like air conditioning, wider access to mental health services and improved training in handling the stresses associated with deployments and combat.

    National Guard and Reserve soldiers who serve in transportation and support units suffered more than others from depression, anxiety and other indications of acute psychological stress, the report said. These soldiers have often been targets of the insurgents' lethal ambushes and roadside bombs, although the report said they had significantly fewer actual combat experiences than soldiers assigned to combat units.

    The report recommended that the Army reconsider whether National Guard and Reserve support troops are getting adequate training in combat skills. Even though they do less fighting than combat troops, they might be better suited to cope with wartime stress if they had more confidence in their combat skills, it said.

    Only 55 percent of National Guard support soldiers said they have ''real confidence'' in their unit's ability to perform its mission, compared with 63 percent of active-duty Army support soldiers. And only 28 percent of the Guard troops rated their level of training as high, compared with 50 percent of their active-duty counterparts.

    Small focus groups were held to ascertain troop morale.

    The report said 54 percent of soldiers rated their units' morale as low or very low. The comparable figure in a year-earlier Army survey was 72 percent. Although respondents said ''combat stressors'' like mortar attacks were higher in the most recent survey, ''noncombat stressors'' like uncertain tour lengths were much lower, the report said.

    The thing that bothered soldiers the most, the latest assessment said, was the length of their required stay in Iraq. At the start of the war, most were deployed for six months, but now they go for 12 months.

    Asked about this, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told a Pentagon news conference that the Army's 12-month requirement is linked in part to its effort to complete a fundamental reorganization of fighting units.

    ''I've tried to get the Army to look at the length of tours and I think at some point down the road they will,'' he said.


    07-20-05 1751EDT
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    SERP Emeritus paintmered's Avatar
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    Re: Majority of Soldiers in Iraq Say Morale Is Low

    Interesting. The multiple articles I saw on it had a headline to the effect of. "Morale, Suicide Rate in Iraq Improving."
    What if this wasn't a rhetorical question?

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    Re: Majority of Soldiers in Iraq Say Morale Is Low

    Quote Originally Posted by paintmered
    Suicide Rate in Iraq Improving."
    Now that's real progress.
    The widow is gathering nettles for her children's dinner; a perfumed seigneur, delicately lounging in the Oeil de Boeuf, hath an alchemy whereby he will extract the third nettle and call it rent. ~ Carlyle

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    Re: Majority of Soldiers in Iraq Say Morale Is Low

    Quote Originally Posted by Rojo
    Now that's real progress.
    Progess on the part of the mental health professionals that were sent over there to help with this sort of thing. It's less than half now than it was early in the war. Yes, I'd say that's progress and a credit to the psychologists that deployed.
    What if this wasn't a rhetorical question?

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    Re: Majority of Soldiers in Iraq Say Morale Is Low

    lets see--in the 120 degree heat all day with people all around me who'd probably like to slice my head off at anytime--i guess i'd just be happy as a clam

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    Re: Majority of Soldiers in Iraq Say Morale Is Low

    Oh! You meant the psychologists. I thought you were upbraiding the Times because of bad headline.
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    SERP Emeritus paintmered's Avatar
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    Re: Majority of Soldiers in Iraq Say Morale Is Low

    Quote Originally Posted by Rojo
    Oh! You meant the psychologists. I thought you were upbraiding the Times because of bad headline.
    No, it wasn't a dig at the Times article (I didn't even look at which paper the article appeared in).

    Technically, their headline is factual. Other papers simply chose to focus their articles on the success of the psycologists than the moral level (which also has improved).
    What if this wasn't a rhetorical question?

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    Re: Majority of Soldiers in Iraq Say Morale Is Low

    Quote Originally Posted by paintmered
    No, it wasn't a dig at the Times article (I didn't even look at which paper the article appeared in).

    Technically, their headline is factual. Other papers simply chose to focus their articles on the success of the psycologists than the moral level (which also has improved).
    Not to nitpick, or a dig.

    But factually there is a reason why the article refers to "mental health specialists". They are not Psychologist.

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    Re: Majority of Soldiers in Iraq Say Morale Is Low

    Quote Originally Posted by RedBloodedAmerican
    Not to nitpick, or a dig.

    But factually there is a reason why the article refers to "mental health specialists". They are not Psychologist.

    My bad, I just tried to jump for another word for the sake of not sounding redundant.
    What if this wasn't a rhetorical question?

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    Re: Majority of Soldiers in Iraq Say Morale Is Low

    Quote Originally Posted by RedBloodedAmerican
    Not to nitpick, or a dig.

    But factually there is a reason why the article refers to "mental health specialists". They are not Psychologist.
    What are their qualifications? MSW?

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    Re: Majority of Soldiers in Iraq Say Morale Is Low

    Let me just guess here...

    You are AGAINST the war? Just a guess.
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    Re: Majority of Soldiers in Iraq Say Morale Is Low

    Quote Originally Posted by Larkin Fan
    What are their qualifications? MSW?
    Major Duties: The mental health specialist, under the supervision of a psychiatrist, social worker, psychiatric nurse, psychologist, assists with the management and treatment in/out-patient mental health activities, during peace time or mobilization; collects and records psychosocial and physical data; counsels and treats clients/ patients with personal, behavioral or mental health problems. Duties for MOS 91X at each skill level are:

    • Skill Levels
      • Skill Level 1 MOSC 91X1O. Under close supervision, collects and records psychosocial and physical data, assists with care and treatment of psychiatric, drug and alcohol patients, and counsels clients/patients with personal, behavioral or psychological problems.
      • Skill Level 2 MOSC 91X2O. Collects and records psychosocial and physical data and assists with care and treatment of psychiatric, and drug and alcohol patients, and counsels clients/patients with personal, behavioral or psychological problems.
      • Skill Level 3 MOSC 91X3O. Collects and records psychosocial and physical data and assists with direct treatment of psychiatric, drug and alcohol patients, with the management of psychiatric in/out patient settings, counsels clients/patients with personal, behavioral or psychological problems and assists with management of mental health activity.
      • Skill Level 4 MOSC 91X4O. Assists professional staff with management and supervision of patient treatment in inpatient and outpatient mental health activities. Assists professional staff in the supervision of patient treatment programs, personnel matters, supply economy procedures, fiscal, technical and administrative matters.
    Physical demands rating and qualifications for initial award of MOS. The mental health specialist must possess the following qualifications:

    (1) Physical Demands Rating: moderately heavy

    (2) Physical Profile: 111121

    (3) Minimum score of 105 in aptitude area ST.

    (4) Formal training (completion of MOS 91B and 91X course conducted under the auspices of the AHS) mandatory.

    MOS 91X will change to the alphanumeric designator of 68X in fiscal year 2007.

    The major duties, physical demands, physical profile, and skill levels were obtained from Army Pamphlet 611-21.


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