Economics of Combat Fatigue on U.S. Soldiers

Economics of Combat Fatigue on U.S. Soldiers

Over the years research has been done to ascertain both the psychological and neurological impacts of the wars in which the US has been involved in countries such as Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. The lives of the United States soldiers involved in wars change and it becomes difficult or nearly impossible for most of them to go back to the good lives they used to have before the war. War results into some, if not most, of the soldiers developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder commonly referred to as PSTD (Williamson, 2009). This disorder results into economic losses as a result of reduced production and the general cost of care required for the affected soldiers and their families.

The economic costs of the war on the soldiers can be handled from several perspectives such as:

  • Health care costs
  • Loss in economic production power
  • High divorce rate
  • Legal costs
  • Voluntary services
  • Health care costs

Any warrior coming from the war experiences some effects of the war that tends to interfere with his normal way of behaving. This effect which represents a departure from the norm represents a disorder which necessitates one to seek medical attention. The US   government for example has in the recent past spent a lot of money in treating and compensating the US soldiers that participated in the wars that took place in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan which has translated into massive costs on the budget.

As at 2005, for example, the US had spent more than $4 billion on the war veterans in terms of compensation to the more than 200,000 US soldiers. Since then, the costs have been skyrocketing and are estimated to be about $11 billion currently. Some of these funds are used to cater for the regular checkups and treatment of the affected soldiers, which also includes taking some of the stressed and depressed soldiers to the rehabilitation centres where they are subjected to guiding and counseling so as to give them hope. Soldiers suffer from stress as a result of losing their friends to the war.

There are also cases of injuries at workplace as a result of stressed soldiers being involved in accidents. This also happens on roads as the depressed warriors tend to cause more accidents if left to drive alone. These accidents result in injuries in which not only the soldiers are affected but also the other citizens around. If, fortunately, no death is reported, the injured persons incur a lot of medical expenses (Angelina, 2002).

It is therefore costly for any given country or organization when it is forced by circumstances to cater for the well being of warriors experiencing PTSD either by compensation or by healthcare. This is therefore an economic cost to that particular country or organization for that matter.

Loss in economic production power

The PTSD also has a massive impact on the production power of the person involved. If a soldier is stressed, for example, he/she tends to drink too much and it is obvious drunkards can not carry out economically productive activities. The medical attention to the injuries obtained either in the war or as a result of accidents involved due to the stress automatically denies them the time to engage in economically productive activities. If a soldier loses his her life either as a result of committing suicide due to being overpowered by depression it is a direct loss of production power. Loss of the economical production power of any given country results into the stagnation of that particular economy and is therefore an economic cost to that country.

High divorce rate

A warrior who has just physically war tends to remain in the war state for sometime and it is therefore difficult for some of them to let go especially if the war resulted in the death of some of their friends who were also warriors. It is believed that once in war, the soldiers develop a unique relationship with each other since they are in a situation in which they have to help each other in matters of life and death and the loss of a fellow soldier is one thing hard to believe. This therefore causes some soldiers to become drunkards spending most of the time in the cemeteries with their ‘friends’. This therefore results in tension and strife in their marriages as their marriage partners feel that they have been neglected. This feeling of neglect prompts their spouses to seek for divorce since, as some put it; they are denied their conjugal rights in the family which is a basic element in any serious marriage life (Angelina, 2002). 

It is also widely believed that a stressed soldier has no time for the family in the sense that he or she may not be there for the children and other family members whenever he or she is needed. In some instances the warrior may end up being very violent to the family member sand it might therefore be deemed fit to undergo a divorce or separation on the grounds of security or safety for the other family members. Divorces result into the involved persons being affected economically for example one may be forced to seek for new homes which is costly and also one might be forced to start paying  a certain amount of money for upkeep of the other family (Byrne, 1996).

Legal costs

There are several reported cases resulting from or involving a people associated with PTSD and it they revolve around many aspects such as marriage or harm involving another third party. Divorces in families as stated below involve a considerable number of battles that are carried out in courts of law before different juries. This process involves the hiring of lawyers and advocates which is a costly endeavor for the parties involved. And the time used in attending such court sessions also results in reduced economic production (Byrne, 1996).

Other cases involve third parties sue the warrior for the injuries caused by the warriors carelessness or negligence. This may result in the jury ruling that the warrior compensates for the injuries caused to the third party. This is costly to the warrior’s family and/or the organization or country in which he or she belongs (Williamson, 2009).

The third aspect of the legal battles involves the soldiers either in person or through their representatives suing the government seeking to be compensated for the injuries or harm incurred while serving their country. This as stated above may result into massive costs on the national economy as seen in the US. As the government spends a large fraction of the funds compensating the affected soldiers, some sectors of the economy stagnate due to low funding. The ruling by the juries or courts for that matter that compel the government or the concerned organizations for that matter to compensate for the damages incurred are mandatory to be followed or adhered to. These costs together with the money used in hiring lawyers to represent both the defendant and the plaintiff constitute a vital aspect of the economic cost as a result of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in warriors (Price, 2004). 

Voluntary services costs

There is also the aspect of the cost for the people who are employed to help the affected warriors to live a normal life and for self care. Such people who offer assistance somehow by the end of the day have to meet their personal needs and so have to be paid. This then becomes another cost for the family of the affected warrior as they have to meet the financial need of the helper (Price, 2004).

As analyzed here above, the fatigue resulting from the war has a substantial economic cost to the affected warrior. It is therefore necessary for enough training and assistance to be given to warriors or soldiers in a war to avert the worst case scenarios (Nelson, 1996). 

References

Angelina, M. et al. (2002). “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and its impact on the economic and health costs in South Australia.” Retrieved on 11/25/11 from, http://www.traumarecovery.com.sg/pub/healtheconocostptsdclinpsych.pdf

Byrne, A. et al. (1996). “The cycle of trauma: Relationship aggression in male Vietnam veterans with symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.” Violence and Victims, 11, 211- 225.

Nelson, S. et al. (1996). “Understanding and treating post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms in female partners of veterans with PTSD.” Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 22, 450 - 467.

Price, J. et al. (2004). “Partners of Veterans with PTSD: Research Findings.” Retrieved on 11/25/11 from, http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/pages/partners_of_vets_research_findings.asp

Williamson, V. et al. (2009). “Invisible Wounds.” Psychological and Neurological Injuries Confront a New Generation of Veterans.  Retrieved on 11/25/11 from, http://iava.org/files/IAVA_invisible_wounds_0.pdf

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