The big problems appear to be with Guard and Reserve components:
A majority of U.S. soldiers in Iraq say morale is low, according to an Army report that finds psychological stress is weighing particularly heavily on National Guard and Reserve troops.
Still, soldiers’ mental health has improved from the early months of the insurgency, and suicides have declined sharply, the report said. Also, substantially fewer soldiers had to be evacuated from Iraq for mental health problems last year.
The Army sent a team of mental health specialists to Iraq and Kuwait late last summer to assess conditions and measure progress in implementing programs designed to fix mental health problems discovered during a similar survey of troops a year earlier. Its report, dated Jan. 30, 2005, was released Wednesday.
The initial inquiry was triggered in part by an unusual surge in suicides among soldiers in Iraq in July 2003. Wednesday’s report said the number of suicides in Iraq and Kuwait declined from 24 in 2003 to nine last year.
A suicide prevention program was begun for soldiers in Iraq at the recommendation of the 2003 assessment team.
The overall assessment said 13 percent of soldiers in the most recent study screened positive for a mental health problem, compared with 18 percent a year earlier. Symptoms of acute or post-traumatic stress remained the top mental health problem, affecting at least 10 percent of all soldiers checked in the latest survey.
If someone has the time, it might be interesting to try to gain a historical comparison of morale, if such reports are available from past conflicts.