Wed, May 17, 2006 - Page 7 News List

UK troops in Iraq suffer less than Americans


British soldiers sent to Iraq have coped with the psychological stress of war far better than their US comrades, according to a new British study published yesterday.

The research, published in the medical journal The Lancet, showed that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder affected up to 20 percent of US personnel returning from the war zone, compared with just 4 percent of British troops.

The researchers also found no evidence of "Iraq war syndrome," but said reservists suffered significantly more ill-health than regular professionals.

Professor Mathew Hotopf, from King's College London, led a team that questioned more than 10,000 British military personnel.

Extensive interviews were conducted with soldiers who served in the 2003 Iraq war or were deployed on subsequent tours of duty.

Their health conditions were compared with those of personnel who had not been to Iraq.

In response to the research, Britain's Ministry of Defense yesterday announced a new package of mental health support for the increasing number of reserve soldiers deployed in overseas operations.

Meanwhile, the US Army is warning soldiers and their families that a new film about an Iraq war medical unit may trigger mental health problems for some who see it.

Army brass have sent a cautionary warning to military medical personnel about the soon-to-be-aired Home Box Office documentary Baghdad ER, which gives a graphic view of the Iraq war through the eyes of trauma doctors and nurses, even filming during an amputation.

Despite many disturbing scenes, filmmaker Jon Alpert said the film had actually been toned down.

"Some of the real raw scenes were just a little bit too brutal. My first two days there, I witnessed four amputations," said Alpert.

A private screening was held in Washington on Monday, and the film will air on the HBO cable television network on Sunday.

Around the US, it will be shown at 22 US military installations, but military medical officers are concerned that it may spark adverse reactions among those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Army Surgeon General, Lieutenant General Kevin Kiley, sent out a memo last week warning the film may prompt flashbacks or nightmares among some veterans.

"It's gritty, it's graphic at times, and those who have a loved one deployed or may have lost a loved one might find certain scenes to be such that it might be something they would want to be careful about in viewing," said Army spokesman Paul Boyce.

Boyce said the memo was designed as a sort of "viewer discretion" warning, "particularly for those viewers for whom this may strike very close to home."

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