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October 1, 1997

The Gulf War and Mental Health: A Comprehensive Guide

Author Affiliations

Oregon Health Sciences University School of Medicine Portland


edited by James A. Martin, Linette R. Sparacino, and Gregory Belenky, 197 pp, $55, ISBN 0-275-95631-8, Westport, Conn, Praeger Publishers, 1996.

JAMA. 1997;278(13):1121. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550130095046

This interesting book closely examines mental health services in the Persian Gulf War. Many of the chapter authors and editors were active participants and, as a result, give a knowledgeable, graphic, and comprehensive operational account.

The book has three sections. The first, which details problems encountered in the process of organizing, preparing, deploying, and operating a credible mental health system during the Gulf War, takes up approximately 60% of the text. For the reader who is involved in the administration or organization of health services, particularly emergency response services, this book should have particular interest. The emphasis is on identifying and coping with organizational deficiencies.

Those responsible for coordinating the Gulf War mental health system were presented with problems all too familiar. One author states that most division mental health sections arrived in Saudi Arabia deficient in experienced personnel, appropriate training, supplies, and equipment. Several authors mention the serendipity of