More soldiers than expected suffering from PTSD

Central Jutland health region, Aarhus University Hospital and Odense University Hospital have all seen more cases than expected

The number of soldiers in need of treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after their return home from active duty are far higher than previously believed.

The revelations came this week from the health minister, Astrid Krag (Socialistik Folkeparti), who informed parliament’s health committee, Folketingets Sundhedsudvalg, about the rising PTSD problem.

According to Information newspaper, the psychiatric department at Odense University Hospital originally expected to treat 20 soldiers for PTSD each year, but has revised its predictions after treating 56 in 2012.

Better council resource management needed
The Central Jutland health region and Aarhus University Hospital have also seen more cases than expected. Hospitals in the region experienced 43 cases instead of a predicted 33, while Aarhus University Hospital treated 36 soldiers despite estimating that just 15 would require help. Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen has experienced a steady 80 to 85 cases a year over the past three years.

Lene Espersen, the Konservative defence spokesperson, urged better management of the PTSD problem.

“Councils and regions should set aside adequate resources so that the stricken veterans can receive the treatment they need and once again become an active part of society,” Espersen told Berlingske newspaper.

The spike in solders suffering from PTSD means that the hospitals in Odense and Aarhus have had to increase their capacity by 86 percent. Soldiers currently have to wait four months to get treatment in Aarhus.

More on the way
Benjamin O Yeh, a veterans' spokesperson who has himself suffered PTSD after seeing action in the conflict in Bosnia, believes that the number of veterans seeking treatment will only keep rising.

“We’ve just started seeing the Iraq lads begin showing up [for treatment] within the last six months, and now the Afghan boys are beginning to trickle in,” Yeh told Information. “And they’re going to keep coming in for the next ten years, at least.”

The PTSD issue has been on the political agenda for the past year after war veterans marched on parliament last October in protest against rules that require veterans to document that they are suffering from PTSD within six months of arriving home from a tour of duty in order to successfully claim compensation.

READ MORE: Combat mission in Afghanistan is over

Compensation secured, problems persist
Months of pressure by the veterans resulted in the national board of industrial injuries, Arbejdsskadestyrelsen, changing the rules and reopening 250 cases involving soldiers who developed serious psychological problems after returning home from combat deployment, but were denied compensation.

Another issue soldiers with PTSD face when returning home are councils that lack programmes that meet their needs. Veterans have complained of drowning in council bureaucracy and never getting the aid they require.

Prior to the conclusion of Denmark's combat mission there this summer, over 9,000 Danish military personnel were deployed to Afghanistan since 2002. Forty-three soldiers were killed and about 180 injured. About 75 soldiers were sent home due to psychological issues since 2007.