According to the Army Times, “As of October 2007, 186 Soldiers had died in accidents within one year of returning from combat, 168 of them within the first six months after they returned. Sixty percent of the accident fatalities are sergeants or below. The overwhelming majority of the accidents involve high speed, alcohol or both.” Are these deaths due to thrill seeking? Brain injury? PTSD? It appears that the Army thinks the majority of these deaths may be due to the former, regardless the army has recognized they have a problem and are taking steps to fix it.
WAQ or “Warrior Adventure Quest” is designed to help soldiers adjust from their war time lives that were fast paced and packed with adrenaline, by combining high-adventure outdoor recreation with “Battlemind training to help Soldiers re-adjust to a calmer paced lifestyle.”
The high-adventure acts to entice soldiers to participate, and helps them get that adrenaline rush they are craving in a safe, controlled environment. Battlemind on the other hand is an “Army psychological resiliency-building program that helps Soldiers recognize and respond to fear during combat, then mitigate the cumulative effects of a sustained combat environment and become mentally prepared to reintegrate during the redeployment, post-deployment and reset portions of the deployment cycle.”
While the program is still relatively new, the Army is planning to bring the program to 24 garrisons over the next year, and plans to eventually have every BCT participate in WAQ within 90 days of returning from a combat environment.