Combat troops undergo stress debriefing
PHILIPPINE military officials said troops fighting Abu Sayyaf rebels in southern Philippines are undergoing combat stress debriefing to cope with psychological rigors of long battle in the front lines.
The Western Mindanao Command said three companies from different battalions have so far undergone stress debriefing being conducted by medical teams composed of health professionals from various specializations, including priests.
It did not say how many troops have underwent combat stress debriefing, but one company is between 62 to 190 soldiers.
Combat stress debriefing is a mechanism to ensure the psychological health, morale and welfare of troops involved in highly dangerous combat operations. Many soldiers who spent a long time in battle may suffer from what medical experts call Post-traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.
PTSD is a condition of persistent mental and emotional stress occurring as a result of injury or severe psychological shock, typically involving disturbance of sleep and constant vivid recall of the experience, with dulled responses to others and to the outside world.
“The debriefing aims to address possible cases of PTSD among troops, a sickness that is beyond superficial wounds common among soldiers, policemen and other law enforcers who have been to combat zones or some life threatening situations,” the military said.
Brig. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, commander of Joint Task Force Sulu, said combat stress debriefing is part of the military program to take care of the health and welfare of troops involved in combat.
“The Armed Forces of the Philippines provides a continuing healthcare program to our soldiers from the moment officers and troops get commissioned or enlisted until they retire from the service,” Dela Vega said.
“Combat fatigue and battle stress debriefing are provided to our soldiers in view of their perilous mission. This is to address any possible problem or stress that may affect the performance; and medical and psychological health of soldiers assigned in combat zone,” he added.
There were cases in the past where soldiers who had fought a long battle with rebels in the restive southern region had committed suicide or went on shooting rampage in their barracks, and others suffered extreme depression for failing to see or be with their family or loved ones.