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Bundeswehr trauma cases spike

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Bundeswehr trauma cases spike
Photo: DPA
08:34 CEST+02:00
The number of Bundeswehr soldiers returning from duty in Afghanistan with serious psychological problems has tripled in the last three years, and is expected to continue increasing, the German military's head psychiatrist said on Wednesday.

In 2007, there were 145 soldiers who reported having post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after they returned from the increasingly dangerous NATO mission, leader of psychiatry and psychotherapy at the Bundeswehr hospital in Berlin Peter Zimmermann told daily Mitteldeutsche Zeitung.

The following year numbers increased to 245, and in 2009 jumped dramatically to 466 cases, he told the paper.

More insurgent attacks and casualties among German troops seems to be causing more anxiety for soldiers, he said.

“That probably increases the number of trauma cases. When someone sees their comrade die, it has a deeper affect that when he sees a comrade ‘only' injured,” he said. “As long as we are involved in combat missions this problem will accompany us. And when the missions get more intense, the problem will increase.”

And when soldiers come home they need more support from German society, Zimmermann insisted.

“I constantly hear soldiers who say, ‘We are coming home and no one is interested in us.' The more a society stands behind its soldiers, the better they do – psychologically too,” Zimmermann said.

Many young people join the military because they are idealistic and want to serve their country, the doctor said, adding that Germans should value this more.

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