Within the framework of ongoing defence sector reform in BiH, the MoD of BiH is developing new mechanisms to facilitate enhanced responses to the needs of a modern, professional, and NATO compliant Armed Forces. This includes the application of international standards and models to design and implement a systematic response to the potential negative impacts of past and present war-related experiences on the mental health of discharged and active duty staff of the MoD and those involved in peacekeeping missions, as well as their family members.

Defence reform process, also includes the adoption of a Law that limits the upper age for service to 35 years, which has resulted in the discharging of thousands of personnel. The process has caused difficulties for those personnel discharged, with many not only losing their source of income but also a sense of place in society. Experiences from involvement in the conflict serve to further complicate these issues.

Since the conclusion of the conflict, there have been no programmes specifically designed to support Military Personnel and members of the Armed Forces in the context of mental health, and there are no comprehensive and reliable data on numbers of persons with mental health problems related to the conflict in BiH.

However, some of the existing analysis and results of research conducted on professional armed forces personnel who actively participated in the conflict in BiH indicate that the acute – war stress reaction, six years subsequent to the conclusion of the conflict transformed into PTSD in 22% of population. Although some issues were raised concerning the methodology used in these researches, it is obvious that the numbers involved are extremely high and that a need therefore exists for an immediate intervention.

The short- and long-term consequences of traumatic stress do exist also amongst civilian population, but they are more relevant within a military context.

In general, mental health issues and the general healthcare of members of the Armed Forces of BiH are realized through the civil health institutions in BiH.

The procedure and manner of usage of the health protection is problematic, in relation to members of the Armed Forces BiH that are insured with the institutions of healthcare in one entity or the District, and have a need to use healthcare within the territory of another entity, since health insurance only covers the place of origin, and those serving in the Armed Forces are often working away from their place of origin.

Furthermore, problems become apparent as a result of assessments of medical ability of the members of Armed Forces being conducted in a civilian context, without necessarily taking into account the specific situation and needs of Armed Forces personnel.

Therefore, there is a demonstrable need for systematic regulations and approach, and the MoD has identified mental health issues amongst personnel as a priority issue and requested donor support.

Therefore IOM, with the support of some of the NBI countries, is presently fully engaged in strengthening the MoD human resources structures in relation to the discharging of defence personnel and an initiative focused on mental health issues amongst Armed Forces personnel will therefore constitute part of an integrated approach to ongoing Security Sector Reform efforts in BiH.

The principal goal is to create a permanent structure to manage mental health, psychosocial well-being, and the prevention of negative psychosocial consequences in all members of the MoD/AF BiH (new recruits, active duty staff, discharged and retired members and their families, and particularly members of AF BiH participating in peacekeeping missions).