Mental trauma not included in casualty count

By Tom Philpott

Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, charged Bush administration officials Wednesday with continuing to downplay the mental trauma and brain injuries suffered by veterans of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Filner said an April RAND Corp. study — “Invisible Wounds of War — Psychological and Cognitive Injuries, Their Consequences, and Services to Assist Recovery” — justifies a tenfold jump in the U.S. casualty count versus the figure of 33,000 American dead and wounded used by the Pentagon.

RAND researchers extrapolated from a survey they conducted of 1,965 veterans to conclude that nearly 300,000 service members and veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan wars are suffering from post-traumatic stress or major depression.