Study: Some Vietnam Vets Still Struggle With PTSD, 40 Years Later

Health & Fitness

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.

AP photo by Brynn Anderson

Dashcam footage from a freeway commuter shows the moment a pilot ejected from an F-16 military jet last week, releasing a parachute before the aircraft slammed into a Riverside County, California warehouse.

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Marine Corps/Staff Sgt. Oscar L Olive IV)

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

Several members of the Marine Corps' famous Silent Drill Platoon were kicked out of the service or punished by their command after someone reported witnessing them using a training rifle to strike someone.

Three Marines have been discharged in the last 60 days and two others lost a rank after the Naval Criminal Investigative Service began looking into hazing allegations inside the revered unit that performs at public events around the world.

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Keion Jackson).

The U.S. military will build 'facilities' to house at least 7,500 adult migrants, the Pentagon announced on Wednesday.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has approved a request from the Department of Homeland Security to construct the facilities, said Pentagon spokesman Army Maj. Chris Mitchell.

Read More Show Less
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian M. Wilbur.)

Defense officials will brief President Donald Trump's national security team on a plan that involves sending 5,000 more troops to the Middle East to deter Iran, Task & Purpose has learned.

So far, no decisions have been made about whether to send the reinforcements to the region, unnamed U.S. officials told CNN's Barbara Starr.

"The military capabilities being discussed include sending additional ballistic missile defense systems, Tomahawk cruise missiles on submarines, and surface ships with land attack capabilities for striking at a long range," CNN reports. "Specific weapons systems and units have not been identified."

Read More Show Less

The thousands of sailors, Coasties and Marines who descend on New York City every year for Fleet Week are an awesome sight to behold on their own, but this year's confab of U.S. service members includes a uniquely powerful homecoming as well.

Read More Show Less