Congressman Gene Taylor has experienced first hand the stresses American soldiers face in combat in his many trips to Iraq.
"We made about a 20 or 25 mile run one day and it was a day after a Humvee from here had been blown up," says Taylor. "A young man had lost both his legs, and there was a young lady Lt. in the front seat, and every pile of trash we saw, every dead animal, every abandoned vehicle we saw, she's yelling at the top of her lungs, IED, Improvised Explosive Device, telling her driver to swerve away from that thing."
Although his experience was short lived, he says soldiers face such life threatening situations every day.
"It really hit me," says Taylor. "I'm going to do this one day. She's going to do this for 365 days, so I can very much understand why the people coming back from that conflict have had very serious emotional and psychological problems."
So he's not surpirsed by the findings of a newly released Pentagon survey of troops that found one-third of those in combat report anxiety, depression and acute stress. And those deployed more than six months or multiple times were more likely to screen positive for a mental health issue. That's something Taylor says most soldiers won't readily admit.
"I don't think I've ever had a soldier tell me they were afraid. Even if they are feeling it, they're just not going to say it. It's not in their psyche."
Such a brave face might also explain the studies results of ethics on the battlefield that show more than than a third of troops say torture should be allowed to save the life of a fellow soldier. And less than half of the soldiers and marines would report a team member for unethical behavior. Taylor says such mindsets could spell problems especially when those soldiers return home. But he says mental health care is something we owe them.
"We as a nation are going to have to budget for that. we're going to have the responsibility to take care of them for the rest of their lives and for their minor children until they reach 21 years of age and it going to be something that we as a nation are going to have to do. It's our responsibility."
Taylor says he lays much of the blame for the extended combat tours and the accompanying stress on soldiers at the door step of the pentagon and Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld who promised a quick victory with fewer forces.