By Adrian Zupp
With the recent, lengthy conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, it sometimes seems like the Gulf War that followed Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, has almost been lost in the rapids of history. But for all those affected by that war, including almost 700,000 U.S. troops, it remains a vivid, and in many cases painful, event.
One of the legacies of that war two decades ago is what is known as Gulf War Illness (aka Gulf War Syndrome). To this day, there is considerable dispute about whether this really is a coherent illness or not. What can be said is that a slew of symptoms have been included under the GWI/GWS rubric.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs clusters the symptoms into three general areas:
- Mood and cognition problems
- Musculoskeletal problems.
Among the second category of symptoms – those of a psychological nature – are such things as depression, anxiety, alcohol abuse and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However one views the notion of Gulf War Illness, there is no denying that many veterans of this conflict exhibit these symptoms and suffer with them on a daily basis.
Some have sought help. Others haven’t. But it is important for veterans of any conflict to have a good sense of their mental health and to take any necessary steps to improve it. A free, anonymous online screening is the simplest way to get closer to an understanding of the true condition of one’s mental health.
No veteran should have to suffer in silence. Not one should be “left behind.” The mental health of all who have endured combat – as well as the loved ones who shared the experience – should be both a personal and a national priority. And that includes the veterans of historically receding Gulf War.
Adrian Zupp is the marketing writer at Screening for Mental Health.