Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army's vice chief of staff, says troops need more time between deployments to ease the emotional strain and to curb occurrences of post-traumatic stress disorder.
"We need more time at home between deployments," Chiarelli told ABC's Christiane Amanpour in an interview aired Sunday on "This Week."
"I went to an aviation brigade of about 1,500 folks. Those senior pilots in that brigade, those individuals who have been flying mission after mission — 62 percent ... [were] on their third deployment and almost 40 percent were on their fourth deployment with very, very little time at home."
Chiarelli emphasized that repeated and sustained deployments affect "everything" in the lives of those who have taken multiple trips to Iraq and Afghanistan — from increased suicide rates in men to struggles faced by women who lose custody battles for their children.
"It affects everything: it affects the divorce rate, it affects substance abuse. It affects everything. We've tried to take our focus and shift it," he said.
The general also pointed to a serious lag in time between "initiating events" that trigger PTSD and when those who are affected seek treatment. Chiarelli said there is typically a 12-year gap between the event and treatment, citing civilian figures from the National Institute of Mental Health.
"The issue isn't that they finally seek help. It's all the things that happen in between," Chiarelli said, repeating drug abuse, anger management issues and high divorce rates as common problems among troops.