London Independent 
Aug 1, 2010
Troops leaving the Armed Forces may be put through psychological profiling in a new effort to identify those at risk of developing mental disorders linked to their experience on the frontline. The Secretary of State for Defence, Liam Fox, who has described the impact of mental illness among service personnel as a “time bomb”, believes developments in science means more could be done to stop the most vulnerable “falling through the safety net”.
Some 180,000 troops are thought to have been deployed to the two conflicts since 2001. The long-term impact of their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan on those who return to civilian life is not known; in some cases, symptoms from past trauma may not emerge until many years later.
However, Combat Stress, the ex-services mental welfare society, reports a 72 per cent rise in referrals in the past five years. On average, veterans are waiting 14 years between discharge and seeking the charity’s help. Comparisons to US forces show Britain has not yet experienced the sharp rise in serious mental conditions and suicide rates seen in America.
A study by King’s College London earlier this year found 4 per cent of British armed forces suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but 20 per cent had symptoms of common mental disorders. Research of 10,000 soldiers showed 13 per cent were misusing alcohol, but those who had served in Iraq or Afghanistan were 22 per cent more likely to abuse alcohol than those who had not.