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Stress spears deployed service personnel

In Iraq and Afghanistan, no one works “behind the lines”

LAS VEGAS — Soldiers fighting at the tip of the spear — the leading edge of combat — confront fighting, suffering and dying. But the success of those soldiers’ operations depends on a huge network of service and support personnel who themselves face considerable and often overlooked war stress, says military sociologist Wilbur Scott of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

After returning from one or more deployments, National Guard combat service personnel — including clerks, truck drivers, medics and supply officers — displayed slightly less emotional resilience and described having experienced more stress while overseas and after returning home than their comrades engaged in combat, Scott reported August 20 at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association.

In particular, combat service personnel cited deployment stress triggered by exposure to danger, life-threatening situations and death.

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