The psychosocial effects of combat: the frequently unseen injury.Crit Care Nurs Clin North Am. 2006 Sep; 18(3):349-57.CC
The psychosocial issues related to deployment and combat duty are complex. Deployment may result in psychiatric casualties that are either the result of inadequate coping with the stressors of deployment or acute stress reactions caused by the trauma of battle, that is, combat stress reactions. Combat duty is associated with traumatic events, deprivation, and exposure to war atrocities that may result in acute, delayed or chronic psychosocial issues during and afer returning from deployment. Although protective and mediating factors ar in place, 11% to 17% of combat veterans are at risk for mental disorders in 3 to 4 months after return from combat duty. Combat veterans include service members directly involved in combat as well as those providing support to combatants, that is, nurses. All combat veterans are at risk for experiencing the negative effects of deployment. Frequent deployments of active duty, reserve, and National Guard members have become commonplace. This translates into a disruption of live for anyone associated with the military, as well as an increased focus on the psychosocial impact of combat across the nation. Modern warfare has resulted in multiple changes in policy that govern military operations. Initiatives that focus on the stabilization of service members and their families may impact mental health outcomes of service members returning from combat duty. An initiative toward decreasing the stigma of receiving mental health care is warranted. Mental health issues must be addressed before and during deployment to ensure optimum individual and unit functioning. Early identification and treatment of mental health problems may decrease the psychosocial impact of combat and thus prevent progression to more chronic and severe psychopathology such as depression and PTSD.