The following excerpts were taken from a Dallas Morning News article entitled “Study of Vietnam vets finds those with worst PTSD improve little over the years” posted August 7, 2014:
Most veterans who had persistent post-traumatic stress a decade or more after serving in the Vietnam War have shown surprisingly little improvement since and a large percentage have died, a new study finds, updating landmark research that began a generation ago.
Members of minorities who enlisted before finishing high school were especially likely to develop such war-related trauma, as were those veterans who had killed multiple times in combat, the study found.
The analysis, financed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, is part of the first effort to track a large, nationally representative sample of service members through their adult lives, and it is likely to have implications for post-traumatic stress treatment and disability benefits programs for years to come, the authors said. Both issues have been hotly debated during the drawdown from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The study confirms that the majority of veterans learn to cope with their war experiences. Yet most of those who do not could live with traumatic stress for the remainder of their lives. An estimated 13 percent of current active-duty soldiers and 10 percent of Marines have post-traumatic stress disorder, characterized by disabling flashbacks, hyper-arousal and sleep problems, and about 120,000 sought treatment in 2012, according to government figures.
More than 18 percent of those with PTSD had died by retirement age, about twice the percentage of those without the disorder. The new research is likely to raise questions about why war trauma persists in some veterans longer than in others (especially those with severe PTSD), the effectiveness of PTSD treatments, and whether disability compensation affects motivation to recover.
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