The steps were proposed in response to the findings of a survey that found up to 17 percent of diplomats serving at such posts may suffer from post traumatic stress disorder or similar problems, the officials said.
The figures, which some fear could be far higher in Baghdad and Kabul, are to be sent to all U.S. diplomatic missions in a cable as early as Tuesday after The Associated Press reported the results on Monday, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.
"The bottom line here is that we are going to do what we need to do to help out our people, if people need help, if they need counseling we're going to do that," he told reporters, adding that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is personally involved in efforts to improve the department's ability to assist diplomats.
"She wants to make sure that our personnel have the best possible care if they need it," McCormack said. At the same time, he made clear that Rice wanted "to get diplomats out from behind the desks" at all embassies, including hardship posts, to do their jobs.
McCormack declined to discuss specifics of what was being proposed to deal with the growing problem, but other officials familiar with the plans said the State Department will ask Congress to fund new initiatives estimated to cost about $700,000 per year. They spoke on condition of anonymity because lawmakers have not yet been consulted.
Among the proposals:
The survey was begun in the spring to evaluate mental strains on the U.S. diplomatic corps as its members are asked to serve in growing numbers at increasingly dangerous
places, particularly Iraq and Afghanistan, where they are at risk from insurgent attacks.
Its results are summarized in the cable, which says that post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, "is probably present in 2 percent of respondents. Another 15 percent of respondents possibly have this disorder but would require a more thorough examination to make a definitive diagnosis."
About 2,600 diplomats who have worked over the past five years at the department's 21 so-called "unaccompanied" embassies and consulates, where either spouses or other dependents are not allowed for security reasons, completed the survey.
The union that represents U.S. diplomats — the American Foreign Service Association, or AFSA — says the surveys findings may be misleading because they include all 21 unaccompanied posts in the State Departments network and do not break the numbers out by specific mission
/>In addition to Iraq and Afghanistan, those posts include four missions in Pakistan, three in Saudi Arabia and one each in Burundi, Bosnia, the Central African Republic, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Lebanon, Liberia, Serbia (Kosovo) and Yemen
/>One AFSA representative said that lumping results from posts like those in Haiti, Congo or Liberia could skew the figures from far more dangerous places, notably Baghdad, where U.S. diplomats routinely cope with insurgent shelling in the fortified "Green Zone" where the embassy and their quarters are housed
/>AFSA has said its information suggests that as many as 40 percent of diplomats, especially those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, 바카라사이트
struggle to readjust to civilian life and suffer from stress disorders, including thoughts of suicide. They note that the civilian foreign service, unlike the military, lacks key support systems to help those in need
/>McCormack said he could not speak to the AFSA figure but said the survey data would be broken down by post in order to better understand the problem.