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We are deployed Air Force mental health professionals with a combined 31 years of experience practicing in the military. We are deeply concerned by the May 6 Perspectives piece “Psychiatry’s bible doing more harm than good.” Despite Paula J. Caplan’s assertions to the contrary, her remarks are based more on opinion than facts.

While exercise, good nutrition, meditation and human connection are essential to one’s emotional well-being, they are often not sufficient to treat serious medical conditions such as psychiatric disorders. Psychiatric illness often requires medication and psychotherapy.

Dr. Caplan bases her thesis on anecdotal cases and it is true that some providers are less skilled than others, leading to sporadic problems. However, psychiatrists, psychologists and clinical social workers are all highly trained in the use of their various treatment techniques and do a world of good every day helping people with serious mental health problems deal with their illnesses.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is an important tool in facilitating this work. Our fear is that Dr. Caplan’s one-sided remarks will reinforce the societal stigma associated with mental health care and discourage servicemembers with mental health problems from seeking needed treatment.

Dr. (Lt. Col.) Steven E. Pflanz

Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan

Lt. Col. David R. Englert

Forward Operating Base Mehtar Lam, Afghanistan

Home-front help is inspiring

Thank you for publishing the May 14 article “Military fills health care gap in rural South”! It’s nice to know our military is helping the poor without getting shot at!

Also, it is encouraging to know that we can use the military on our own soil. The U.S. has very poor people, too.

Jenny Caraway

Forward Operating Base Phoenix, Afghanistan


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