Thursday, May 03, 2007

U.S. Diplomats Suffering From PTSD After Iraq Tours

U.S. diplomats are returning from Iraq with the same debilitating, stress-related symptoms that have afflicted many U.S. troops, prompting the State Department to order a mental health survey of 1,400 employees who have completed assignments there.

Larry Brown, the State Department's director of medical services, said that as early as this month the department will e-mail questionnaires to employees who have been posted in Iraq.

The surveys, to be completed anonymously, are intended to determine how many returning diplomats and civilian employees are suffering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other problems as a result of exposure to a war zone, Brown said.

State Department employees in Iraq seldom leave the capital's heavily fortified Green Zone. Even there, rocket and mortar attacks are frequent, and the sound of gunfire is constant. Suicide bombers have penetrated the zone on rare occasions, most recently on April 12.

The department was prodded to act by the American Foreign Service Association. It reported that some diplomats had difficulty adjusting after leaving.

Brown said the State Department is considering forming support groups "for alumni of high-stress or unaccompanied posts" — jobs in countries where the threat is so high or schools and medical facilities so poor that diplomats cannot bring family members.

The number of jobs classified by the department as unaccompanied posts has more than tripled since 2001 to about 700. There are about 200 such jobs in Iraq, said Henrietta Fore, undersecretary for management.

More than 1,400 State Department employees have served in Iraq since 2003. Three have been killed there.

Although U.S. diplomats have served in violent places before, they have "never been put into an active war zone in this way," Brown said.


Blogger Meatball One said...


5/03/2007 11:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I meant that laugh along the lines of, or related to, the contrast between the imagery of a life de quaffing tax exempt booze (that I more than correctly associate with diplomatic stations) and the encroachment of gritty reality as described in the post. Everyone got that?!

5/04/2007 6:57 AM  
Blogger Effwit said...


Got it. I never suspected that you were celebrating the misfortune of those who are drawing the short stick when it comes to assignments.

The vast majority of the diplomats know the truth of whats happening there, and that is what has to be really bothering them.

5/04/2007 7:34 AM  

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