The Cost of Combat Stress: a Billion Dollars a Year

By Madhumita Venkataramanan

In a war, death comes in many forms: jury-rigged bombs, sleek fighter jets, assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades. But a stealthier killer lingers long after the fighting is done, in the psychological toll that combat exacts. More than 6,000 veterans take their own lives every year — about 20 percent of the 30,000 American suicides annually.

In an effort to quantify the psychological cost of war, a recent report from the National Bureau of Economic Research has come up with the magic numbers. They estimate that lower-bound costs of mental health problems from the global war on terror are between $750 million and $1.35 billion annually.

Despite trying everything from portable weatherproof brain scanners to drug treatments with ecstasy and MDMA, service members are still suffering with post-traumatic stress and other mental health issues.

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