According to the Pentagon's latest mental health survey, 31 percent of Marines, 38 percent of soldiers and 49 percent of the National Guard reported psychological symptoms such as anger, depression or alcohol abuse after returning home. As the director of the survey said, combat stress is not something you just get over.
"It may manifest and change their lives forever. These are men and women who have undergone experiences that are unlike anything else in humankind," Vice Adm. Donald Arthur said.
For wounded soldiers like Staff Sgt. Daniel Shannon, post-traumatic stress disorder adds insult to their injuries.
"I started smashing furniture, very rapidly; so fast I didn't know what I was doing 'til it happened. I'd get mad so fast, so angry, and just lash out," Shannon said.
Shannon is at least willing to talk about it.
The survey says the stigma attached to mental illness in the military "remains pervasive and often prevents service members from seeking needed care."
The stigma is one barrier to treatment. Another is that the military doesn't have enough mental health professionals — not even for peacetime, much less war.
According to the survey, there have been "dramatic decreases in the number of military health professionals" since the war started.
And perhaps the most damning finding: The Pentagon "currently lacks both funding and personnel to adequately support the psychological health of service members and their families."
"We concentrate a great deal on physical health; that is, how fast can you run a mile, how many sit-ups and push-ups can you do. But we don't often concentrate on the psychological health of the service member," Arthur said.
The Army now has about 500 health professionals and plans to hire another 100. But there are about 1 million men and women who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan.