General James Conway, head of the Marine Corps, issued a directive requiring medical officials to screen marines returning from combat for any signs of post traumatic stress, particularly if their behavior makes a sudden change for the worse. His order states: “Post-deployment misconduct, especially a Marine who previously served honorably, must be considered a possible indicator of an undiagnosed stress injury or a mild traumatic brain injury that if confirmed deserves immediate and comprehensive treatment.” The order appears to regard sudden switches from normal behavior to extensive use of drugs or alcohol as indicators the marine is suffering from effective of extensive combat duty.
Last year, there were reports members of the military who received less than honorable discharges were being denied medical treatment by the Veterans Administration. Conway’s order is a welcome change from the prevailing indifference to effects of combat on men who fought and can not shake off the horrors of being under fire. Hopefully, other branches of the military will copy the Conway directive.