The Military, Mental Health and the Media…Step One

Before I go into the research I’ve done this week for my paper, it makes sense to first provide a brief description of what that paper is going to be about…so here you go:

The object of my paper will be to delve into the coverage of mental health in the military and to explore the role of the media in portraying mental health among soldiers. To this end I will use – among others – the case of Robert Bales as well as the Fort Hood shooting in 2009 and the media’s coverage of them. I plan to also compare coverage of the military and mental health in the United States and in Britain (as reports have shown that, despite similar deployment numbers, British soldiers have fewer instances of PTSD). Mental health has a stigma attached to it and the goal of my article is to explore the role that the media plays in portraying mental health and whether or not that stigma is perpetuated by the media. I would like to talk to people who have had direct interactions with soldiers and who have more information about the way soldiers are presented in the media.

This week I reached out to two journalists who spent considerable time in Afghanistan and Iraq. One is a radio journalist who was in Afghanistan and was seriously injured by a roadside bomb. The other is a correspondent for the Associated Press, was in Iraq and was injured by an IED. Once I’ve touched base with them, I’ll hopefully be able to publish their names as well as their answers to my questions, which are attached below.

My reason for reaching out to these two journalists is because I would like to talk to people who could point me in the direction of where to look or if there’s something I’m missing with regard to this topic. I’m also looking for any information that could add context to my paper.


Some interesting articles and the government’s website for veterans:

From the CBS article: For every 100 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, 11 to 20 of them will have PTSD, and female soldiers are overrepresented. Not only are women more likely to get PTSD, 23 percent report sexual assault when in the military, and 55 percent say they have experienced sexual harassment, factors that can add more stress to an already stressful situation, according to the department.

Questions I sent to this week’s potential sources:

  1. What was your experience in Iraq/Afghanistan like?
  2. What can you tell me about the soldiers you met while in Iraq/Afghanistan?
  3. Can you tell me a little about your injury and recovery (the type of treatment you received)?
  4. Is there a stigma within the media with regard to mental health, specifically among soldiers?
  5. How do you think the media covers mental health? Why do you think it covers mental health the way that it does?
  6. What role do you think the media plays in the perceptions of mental health in the military?
  7. Does the media’s coverage of mental health in the military affect the way soldiers view it or is the other way around?
  8. Have you ever covered mental health in the military? If so, can you elaborate?
  9. Were you able to meet any soldiers while recovering and if so what can you tell me about them?
  10. Do you think there is still a stigma associated with mental health among soldiers? If so, what do you feel is most responsible for this and how can it be overcome?
  11. Do you think there are sufficient resources available to soldiers today and if so, do soldiers take advantage of them? Why or why not?
  12. What do you think of the coverage of Robert Bales, the Army Staff Sgt. accused of killing 17 Afghan civilians?
  13. Is there anything else you think I should know or is there any information that could provide context for the paper?


What’s Next?

Who I plan to contact in the upcoming weeks:

1. Manhattan Campus of the VA NY Harbor Healthcare System

2. Dr. Simon Rego, a supervising psychologist at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City

3. Dr. Joseph Hullett, a board-certified psychiatrist who is also a Vietnam-era Marine, believes it’s only going to get worse. He is the senior medical director of clinical strategy for Optimum Health, Behavioral Solutions.

4. Ned Parker, Baghdad Bureau Chief for the LA Times until August 2011

5. Matthew Kauffman, Investigative Reporter for the Hartford Courant who was one of two journalists who wrote a series “Mentally Unfit, Forced to Fight,” in 2006.


I also plan to read Wired’s article “The Forgetting Pill” and get some numbers of mental health and the military as well as some facts and figures on the media’s coverage of mental health and the military.



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