The aim of this study is to describe the characteristics of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who have accessed help from Combat Stress from 2003 to 2011. Veterans of the recent Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts presented to Combat Stress for help on average 2 years after discharge and were on average 10 years younger than veterans of previous conflicts.
Recently, proposals have been made to improve mental health care for U.K. military veterans. Combat Stress (CS), a veteran's charity, has provided mental health services for veterans since 1919. Since 2003, service users have included veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts; however, their pattern of help-seeking has not been evaluated. This article aims to describe the characteristics of the veteran population of the recent Iraq or Afghanistan conflicts who sought help from CS between 2003 and May 2011. Nine hundred and eighty-eight records were evaluated. The median time for veterans of recent conflicts to seek help from CS since discharge from military service was ~2 years, considerably shorter than the mean time of 14 years previously estimated by CS. Approximately, three-quarters of the veterans receiving a full clinical assessment (n = 114), received a diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (n = 87). Approximately half of the clinically assessed veterans self-referred to CS (51%); their most frequent diagnosis was PTSD. Veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan are presenting to Combat Stress sooner, and at a younger age, than veterans of previous conflicts and operations.
van Hoorn LA, Jones N, Busuttil W, Fear NT, Wessely S, Hunt E, Greenberg N. Iraq and Afghanistan veteran presentations to Combat Stress, since 2003. Occupational Medicine 2013. 63. doi:10.1093occmedkqt017.