The END Results?

Iran war that began eight years and nine months earlier cost nearly 4,500 American and well more than 100,000 Iraqi lives and $800 billion from the U.S. Treasury. The bitterly divisive conflict left Iraq shattered and struggling to recover. For the United States, two central questions remain unanswered: whether it was all worth it, and whether the new government the Americans leave behind will remain a steadfast U.S. ally or drift into Iran’s orbit

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“You know it really hard to make our citizens understand the value of service and sacrifice when they have served no one but themselves and sacrificed nothing… BUT good luck with that!”

Above comment was posted on the below article “First Lady, Dr. Biden: Families Deserve Support”

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Michelle Obama, Jill Biden: ‘Joining Forces’ for military families

WASHINGTON — Michelle Obama says she is determined to use the “wonderful megaphone” she has as first lady to highlight the plight of military families and encourage Americans to do more to help the people her husband calls “the force behind the force.”

“We should all be working together on this,” Michelle Obama said Tuesday in an interview with USA TODAY after the official launch of her new “Joining Forces” initiative at the White House. “These are pretty solid Americans out here that are making these sacrifices quietly for all the rest of us.”

Left behind when their loved ones go to war, the wives,husbands and children of the military’s 2.2 million soldiers, sailors and airmen often face lonely struggles with issues as critical as finding jobs and changing schools to tasks as mundane as mowing the lawn and shoveling snow. Continue reading

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New exhibit honoring Iraq soldiers at Taubman Museum

ROANOKE – A new exhibit is scheduled to open at the Taubman Museum and it’s one that may pull at your heartstrings.

It’s called, “Fallen.”

Internationally recognized artist Jane Hammond says the idea came to her in a dream about six years ago.

In the exhibit, Hammond recognizes American troops who have been killed in the Iraq War by inscribing their names on leaves.

Every time a soldier is killed she adds the name to her artwork.

Hammond says people are usually shocked by the actual number of casualties when they see her artwork. “Many of them walk away with kind of an enlarged understanding of how many 4,300 is. Many of the people know that’s the number of casualties, but still when they see all these leaves they’re very surprised how many there are.”

Hammond says she will continue her work until the war is over.

The exhibit opens to the public this Friday.


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Has The War Ended?

Good news! The last American combat troops left Iraq on Aug. 18. Most Americans believe the war has ended.

Well, not quite.

American troops no longer conceive and lead combat missions. However, for another year and four months, some 50,000 American troops remain in Iraq to continue training that country’s security forces and perform intelligence work. They will accompany Iraqi security forces and, if needed, Special Ops troops will engage in battle. All 50,000 Americans remain in harm’s way.

For families sending their loved ones to Iraq now, the Iraq war is not over. Sleepless nights continue.

Two questions remain for Americans: Have we accomplished anything, and has the cost in blood, treasure, trauma, and our country’s reputation been worth it? Answers range from one extreme to the other among Americans. They will range widely among the troops, too.

Read More

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Deployment Takes Toll on Army Wives

War isn’t just tough on soldiers. Army wives whose husbands were deployed have higher rates of depression, anxiety, sleep disorders and other mental health issues than the wives of soldiers who stayed home, a new study shows.

Researchers looked at the medical records of more than 250,000 wives, accounting for most women married to active-duty U.S. Army personnel.

Between 2003 and 2006, about 34 percent of the women’s husbands deployed for one to 11 months, 35 percent deployed for longer than 11 months, while 31 percent of soldiers were not sent overseas.

Among wives of soldiers deployed for up to 11 months, researchers found almost 3,500 more diagnoses of depression, anxiety, sleep disorders and other mental health issues than among wives who husbands stayed home.

The more months a soldier was deployed, the greater the toll on his wife. Among the wives of soldiers gone for longer than 11 months during the four-year period, they found more than 5,300 additional diagnoses of mental health issues.

“The wives of soldiers who are deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan are experiencing greater mental health problems and have a greater need for mental health services,” said study author Alyssa Mansfield, a research epidemiologist at RTI International in Research Triangle Park, N.C., who was at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, when she conducted the research. “We also found the longer the [soldier] was deployed, the more likely the spouse was to have a mental health diagnosis.”

The study findings are published in the Jan. 14 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Kristin Henderson, the wife of a Navy chaplain who is serving in Afghanistan and author of While They’re At War: The True Story of American Families on the Homefront, said the findings are not surprising — anxiety and sleepless nights go with the territory. Recently, a fellow military wife confided that she was taking antidepressants to cope with her husband’s deployment. “She said, ‘Oh, everyone is on Prozac here,’” Henderson said.

For the study, researchers excluded male spouses of female soldiers because their numbers are relatively small. Spouses of Reserve and National Guard, as well as those of active-duty Army personnel who had been in the military less than five years, were also not included because researchers did not have full access to medical information on them during the period before, during and after deployment. The study authors controlled for prior diagnosis of mental health issues.

Still, much remains unanswered about the stresses of war on spouses, including whether depression and other mental health issues are most likely to emerge before, during or after deployment, the authors noted.

Each phase of a deployment can cause stress that could contribute to mental health problems, Mansfield said. Before the deployment, there’s anxiety as women prepare themselves and their children for a long absence.

During deployment, women take on added responsibilities as sole caretaker for their home and children, while worrying their husband will be killed or injured. “We know from prior work that the stress surrounding deployment is not limited to the dates of deployments,” Mansfield said.

Even the homecoming, called the reintegration period, isn’t necessarily easy on the family, Henderson said. Soldiers may come home changed, perhaps because of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or injuries, but in more subtle ways, too.

Wives can also change during the time apart, becoming more independent or simply accustomed to taking care of the children alone.

“The expectations are that everything is going to be OK when he comes home, that any problems we have will be behind us,” Henderson said. “But of course, everybody is different. And the longer the deployment, the more things change.”

In a second study from the same journal, U.S. Navy and Marine Corps personnel who were given morphine immediately after sustaining combat injuries were less likely to have PTSD later on.

Of 696 patients, 243 were diagnosed with PTSD while 453 were not. About 61 percent of those who went on to develop PTSD had received morphine during resuscitation or trauma care efforts within an hour of the injury-causing event, while 76 percent of those who did not develop PTSD had been giving morphine.

“Our findings suggest that the use of morphine during trauma care may reduce the risk of subsequent development of PTSD after serious injury,” wrote the researchers from the Naval Health Research Center in San Diego.

More information

The U.S. Department of Defense’s Military Homefront has information on resources for spouses.

By Jennifer Thomas
HealthDay Reporter

SOURCES: Alyssa Mansfield, Ph.D., M.P.H., RTI International, Research Triangle Park, N.C.; Kristin Henderson, author, Washington, D.C.; Jan. 14, 2010, New England Journal of Medicine

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First Lady, Dr. Biden: Families Deserve Support

I traveled with Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, to Iraq over the Fourth of July weekend, and was impressed with her deep caring and understanding of the issues military families face. I wrote about the trip in the blog, “Blogger Joins Dr. Biden Visiting Troops in Iraq.” As she’s often said, as the mother of a National Guard officer, she’s a military mom too.

To Iraq and back, she’s carried an Continue reading

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