US troop morale improved in Iraq last year, but soldiers fighting in Afghanistan suffered more depression and lower morale due to the ongoing seven year conflict in that nation. Evidence indicates soldiers on their third or fourth deployment overseas had sharply greater rates of mental health problems than those on first or second deployments. The Army mental health report recommended longer home time between deployments and more focused suicide-prevention training and sending civilian psychologists and other mental health professionals to war zones.
Mental health officials reproted those on third or fourth deployments had a 27% rate of mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and post-combat stress while those on a first tour had a 12% rate. The level of stress obviously relates to the amount of exposure a soldier has being in combat areas and as violence has escalated in Afghanistan the past year while dropping in Iraq the second half of this year, it is most probably the cause of rising combat-stress rates in Afghanistan.
Soldiers who underwent a special “Battlemind” taining reported fewer problems than those who did not. There has been improvement in making soldiers aware no one has to feel embarrassed because of experiencing combat-stress. Eleven percent of those polled in Iraq said their unit morale was high compared to 7% the previous year. Of course, that figure indicates nearly 90% did NOT consider unit morale high.