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special report

Broken Warriors

In the midst of two long wars, the military is facing enormous challenges at home. In this series, Nextgov examines the mental health consequences for troops and their families after nearly a decade of repeated deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Kelly Martin/Nextgov
Vicodin is a commonly-prescribed opiate painkiller.

VA Docs Ignored Department Drug Guidelines, Putting Patients at Risk

May 16, 2014 Tylenol and Xanax in combination with opioids can be deadly.

Feds Approve Medical Marijuana Study for Vets With PTSD

March 18, 2014 The research will target veterans with chronic, treatment-resistant PTSD.

Troops Exposed to Blasts More Likely to Get PTSD, TBI, Other Long-Term Ailments

February 13, 2014 Defense and VA urged to collect more data.

‘Kill Me. I Can’t Live Like This' -- A Long Wars PTSD Love Story

February 3, 2014 An Army veteran recounts life with her husband and his struggles with PTSD and TBI.

JCS Chairman Never Heard of Vet Courts Until This Week

December 4, 2013 Gen. Martin Dempsey promises to visit a Vet Court on his next domestic trip.

Army vet Donald Betts in 2012 in his cell in Aberdeen, Wash., where state officials are working to better coordinate benefits for imprisoned vets.

VA and Defense Chiefs Confront Reality of 700,000 Incarcerated Veterans

December 3, 2013 Conference focuses on vets jailed due to mental health, substance abuse.

Vets and Widows Blast VA Over Toxic Pain Killer Prescriptions

October 10, 2013 Opioids are addictive and deadly.

Pentagon Spent Over $4 Billion on Mental Health Treatment Between 2007 and 2012

August 22, 2013 The Congressional Research Service says the annual treatment costs doubled between 2007 and 2012.

Members of the 1st Infantry Division fall in for a re-deployment ceremony upon return from Iraq to Fort Riley in 2009.

Wounded Soldiers Languished 540 Days in Fort Riley Transition System

August 8, 2013 Lack of staff and months-long searches for medical records contributed to the problem.

Troops With Traumatic Brain Injury Show Symptoms 5 Years Later

July 3, 2013 Long-term TBI study mandated by Congress has been unfunded since 2006.

Poor Mental Health Is a ‘Signature Scar’ of Afghanistan and Iraq Wars

April 24, 2013 Veterans of those conflicts could require long-term care, according to Defense health surveillance report.

VA Gives Tranquilizers to 30 Percent of PTSD Patients, Despite Warnings

March 18, 2013 Benzodiazepines can increase rather than reduce fear, worsening recovery.

A soldier at the beginning of a Post Deployment Health Reassessment event at the Pennsylvania Army National Guard Armory in Lock Haven, Pa.,

Soldiers Waiting for Medical Discharge ‘Languish’ in Disability System

March 11, 2013 Long wait can exacerbate PTSD symptoms, Army IG finds.

Report chronicles the rising burden of military mental health care

December 10, 2012 Mental disorders accounted for 63 percent increase in hospital visits during 11 years of war.

AA works and it’s free, yet Pentagon snubs the substance abuse program

August 16, 2012 Defense Department is coping with a surge of drug and alcohol addiction.

TRICARE substance abuse treatment falls short, experts say

August 15, 2012 The military insurance program covers 20-day inpatient rehabilitation at contract facilities.

TRICARE outsources addiction treatment with little oversight

August 14, 2012 Congress ordered Defense to treat drug and alcohol abuse ‘epidemic’ at military facilities.

Pentagon’s $18 million tool for assessing traumatic brain injury fails to deliver

July 18, 2012 Defense officials concede their description of the software was inaccurate.

Defense and VA can’t track PTSD treatments, report finds

July 17, 2012 Not everyone is getting the help they need, Institute of Medicine report says.

Mental illness is the leading cause of hospitalization for active-duty troops

May 17, 2012 Defense and VA spent nearly $2 billion on psychotropic drugs during the past decade.

Army warns doctors against using certain drugs in PTSD treatment

April 25, 2012 Benzodiazepines, which include Xanax and Valium, could increase aggravate combat stress symptoms.

Inability to track prescriptions adds to Marine drug abuse problem, IG finds

April 11, 2012 The Defense electronic health record system won't be able to pinpoint abuse until 2014.

Military continues off-label drug use, despite concerns

September 28, 2011 Defense Department's inability to track prescriptions compounds the difficulty of measuring adverse medical effects.

VA spent $717 million on a drug deemed as effective as a placebo

August 22, 2011 Studies raise questions about widespread use and high cost of anti-psychotic drugs to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

Defense panel backs controversial drug treatments, but can't track impact

August 5, 2011 Military Health System computers don't flag adverse reactions or potential abuse.

Army reports significant jump in stress levels for combat troops

May 19, 2011 But the latest mental health survey minimizes depression compared to post-deployment assessments.