Mentally ill soldiers with Afghan-related experience more often declared unfit

New research by National Defence shows that soldiers with mental health conditions, especially those with Afghan war illnesses, are far more likely to be declared unfit for military service and almost 70 per cent of them can expect to be mustered out within 10 years of deployment.

OTTAWA — New research by National Defence shows that soldiers with mental health conditions, especially those with Afghan war illnesses, are far more likely to be declared unfit for military service and almost 70 per cent of them can expect to be mustered out within 10 years of deployment.

The Canadian Forces Health Services Branch has reviewed the medical files of over 30,000 troops who deployed as part of the nearly 12 year Afghan campaign.

The study focuses on the long-term career impact of service-related mental disorders.

The analysis finds that five years after the first deployment, 40 per cent of soldiers with a mental-health diagnosis were likely to have developed career limitations that would lead to being released, compared with 11 per cent with no medical condition.

After 10 years, the figures jump to 68.8 per cent and 19.8 per cent respectively.

Dr. Mark Zamorski, head of the deployment health section at defence, says it’s unfortunate but that’s the way it is, especially considering the military’s stringent fitness requirements.

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