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Study: Some Vietnam Vets Still Struggle With PTSD, 40 Years Later
Forty years after the end Vietnam War, troops who served there continue to struggle with post-traumatic stress, according to a study published in the September issue of JAMA Psychiatry.
The National Vietnam Veterans Longitudinal Study concludes that 271,000 Vietnam War veterans suffer from varying levels of post-traumatic stress, and that one-third of that number have a major depressive disorder 40 years after the war.
“An important minority of Vietnam veterans are symptomatic after four decades, with more than twice as many deteriorating as improving,” reads the report. If left untreated, symptoms of post-traumatic stress can be exacerbated as individuals grow older, especially when combined with substance abuse and co-existing psychiatric disorders.
“Policy implications include the need for greater access to evidence-based mental health services,” the report recommends, citing the stressors of aging, retirement, chronic illness, declining social support and the recurrence of unwanted memories as contributing factors to lifetime post-traumatic stress disorder among veterans.
After post-traumatic stress disorder was included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1980, studies showed a gradual decline in post-traumatic stress rates among Vietnam veterans and a diminished effect during a 10-year follow up. However, concerns persisted that combat and wartime stressors were likely to continue having an impact in patients’ lives.
The study — which was led by Dr. Charles R. Marmar of the New York University Langone Medical Center — was published online in July and designed to reassess veterans who participated in the original National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study that was conducted from 1984 through 1988. The new data appears to show that the effects of post-traumatic stress have a longer lifespan than initially thought.
With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan drawing national attention to wartime post-traumatic stress, the implications of the report are of particular note for veterans of America’s most recent conflicts. More than 2.4 million service members deployed to either theater at least once, and according to the National Center for PTSD, between 11 and 20% of Iraq or Afghanistan veterans will have post-traumatic stress in a given year.
The survey was administered to a representative national sample of 2,348 veterans who served in the Vietnam theater of operations. It consisted of a computer-assisted telephone survey, a clinical interview, and a self-reported questionnaire, administered between July 2012 and May 2013.
These findings raise questions about the necessity for mental health care services, both now and in the future, and underscore the need for continued care for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.
29 years after Desert Storm, an Air Force general says we’ve forgotten the lessons that made it so successful
When Air Force Gen. Chuck Horner (ret.) took to the podium at the dedication of the National Desert Storm and Desert Shield Memorial site in Washington D.C. last February, he told the audience that people often ask him why a memorial is necessary for a conflict that only lasted about 40 days.
Horner, who commanded the U.S. air campaign of that war, said the first reason is to commemorate those who died in the Gulf War. Then he pointed behind him, towards the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where the names of over 58,000 Americans who died in Vietnam are etched in granite.
"These two monuments are inexorably linked together," Horner said. "Because we had in Desert Storm a president and a secretary of defense who did the smartest thing in the world: they gave the military a mission which could be accomplished by military force."
The Desert Storm Memorial "is a place every military person that's going to war should visit, and they learn to stand up when they have to, to avoid the stupidness that led to that disaster" in Vietnam, he added.
Now, 29 years after the operation that kicked Saddam Hussein's Iraqi army out of Kuwait began, the U.S. is stuck in multiple wars that Horner says resemble the one he and his fellow commanders tried to avoid while designing Desert Storm.
Horner shared his perspective on what went right in the Gulf War, and what's gone wrong since then, in an interview last week with Task & Purpose.
The Navy SEAL accused of strangling Army Special Forces Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar was promoted to chief petty officer two months after Melgar's death, according to a new report from The Daily Beast.
March Air Reserve Base in California will host nearly 200 U.S. citizens who were flown out of Wuhan, China due to the rapidly-spreading coronavirus, a Defense Department spokeswoman announced on Wednesday.
"March Air Reserve Base and the Department of Defense (DoD) stand ready to provide housing support to Health and Human Services (HHS) as they work to handle the arrival of nearly 200 people, including Department of State employees, dependents and U.S. citizens evacuated from Wuhan, China," said Pentagon press secretary Alyssa Farah in a statement on Wednesday.
Wuhan is the epicenter of the coronavirus, which is a mild to severe respiratory illness that's associated with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The virus has so far killed 132 people and infected nearly 6,000 others in China, according to news reports.
More problems with Air Force's new tanker could put the squeeze on the Pentagon's refueling capabilities, TRANSCOM chief says
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
Protracted delays on Boeing's new KC-46 tanker could leave the Pentagon with a shortage of refueling capacity, the head of U.S. Transportation Command warned on Tuesday.
US troops are still ready to 'fight tonight' against North Korea despite canceled exercises, general says
U.S. troops are still ready to "fight tonight" against North Korea despite the indefinite suspension of major military training exercises on the Korean peninsula, Pentagon officials said Tuesday.