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Psychological Support Pre-During and Post-Deployment

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Conference paper

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The psychological effects of war and peacekeeping upon soldiers are well known. They can include problems ranging from maladaptation to full blown post-traumatic stress disorder. Although a small country, The Netherlands has a long history of involvement in United Nations peacekeeping operations. It started with a peacekeeping operation in Albania in 1913, then Korea in 1950, and Lebanon from 1979 to 1985. Operations started in 1991 in Saudi Arabia and Iraq, then Cambodia, Haiti, and Angola. About 20,000 Royal Netherlands Land Army RNLA personnel served in the former Yugoslavia. At the moment, about 1,200 men and women serve in Bosnia, 650 serve in Afghanistan, and about 200 serve in 10 other United NationsNATO or European Community missions. From the early 1990s until now over 35,000 service personnel have been sent abroad. Neither the United Nations, NATO, nor the European Union has a doctrine or clear policy on psychological support after these operations. Each participating country is responsible for its own military in this regard. The RNLA has developed a comprehensive policy to secure maximum deployability and minimize the long-lasting effects of stressful encounters during peacekeeping operations. This policy focuses on the Armed Forces before, during, and after peacekeeping missions. The Division of Ambulant Psychotherapy of the RNLA has developed a comprehensive set of measures to break down barriers between soldier and therapist to make professional help approachable for the soldier in need. This paper presents the 10 steps that constitute the RNLA policy on psychological support for deployed soldiers. Personnel who have been deployed are sent an aftercare questionnaire about 9 months after they return. Results from this questionnaire for the years 1991 to 2000 are reported and discussed. To better monitor RNLA service personnel, a combined questionnaire to detect both medical and psychological problems is being developed.

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  • Psychology
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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