The head of the Wisconsin National Guard says they have worked hard to protect the mental health of the state’s troops over the last decade, after more than 14,000 guard members from the state have been deployed overseas to fight the war on terrorism. Major General Don Dunbar, the adjutant general of the Guard, says they are constantly working to make sure the stresses of those deployments are not following soldiers home.
Dunbar says support programs have been available for some time to talk with returning troops and to make sure they are aware of services that can help them cope. Unfortunately, he says troops don’t come with an indicator that shows they are having problems.
Dunbar says several Wisconsin guardsmen have returned home with symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but many are hesitant to admit there’s a problem. He says it’s been a policy during his time in command that asking for help will not impact promotions or future opportunities.
Since he took over as the state’s adjutant general in 2007, Dunbar says there have been 13 suicides among guard members. Although, only about half of those deaths were among troops who served overseas. Dunbar says financial and relationship problems have been the main factors in many of those cases.