PTSD In Veterans of the War in Afghanistan

PTSD In Veterans of the War in Afghanistan

PTSD is a severe mental health problem that affects countless military personnel members after active duty ends. War can present many traumatic experiences, some of them life-altering events.

Ongoing conflict caused many Afghanistan Veterans to leave the service with PTSD. Many researchers are still trying to understand all of the effects of the war in Afghanistan on combat Veterans.

U.S. Military Veterans who have PTSD because of their service in Afghanistan need treatment and deserve benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Only through a professional PTSD diagnosis and treatment and help can a Veteran restore their well-being and get on the path to recovery.

Key Takeaways:

  • You’ll learn about the war in Afghanistan
  • You’ll understand how the war in Afghanistan caused PTSD
  • You’ll know how to spot post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms
  • You’ll learn how to make a claim through the VA for PTSD
  • You’ll know the best forms of treatment for PTSD

What Was the War in Afghanistan?

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, started a worldwide conflict. Beginning in 2001, the U.S. did not withdraw troops until 2014, making it the longest war that the U.S. has ever been a part of.

The conflict was long and grueling for those who served in its two main operations: Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). The events left many service members seeking help from mental health service providers due to the effects of the stressors of war.

These traumatic experiences are usually the main contributing factor to PTSD in Veterans who come home. Many Veterans from the war in Afghanistan had difficulty transitioning to ordinary life back in the U.S., which only contributed to the prevalence of PTSD.

Recent studies have shown that about 40% of soldiers who served in the Afghanistan war have PTSD. An additional amount is said to have subthreshold PTSD, a form of PTSD where a Veteran will experience some severe symptoms of PTSD but not enough to be fully diagnosed with it.

Many who served in the war in Afghanistan experienced other mental health issues related to PTSD. Additionally, PTSD rarely develops alone. A Veteran will usually experience other related health problems if they have symptoms of PTSD.

Even after years of being back home, many Veterans of the war in Afghanistan are still fighting the battle of PTSD. Some reports show that suicide rates amongst Veterans were at their highest in 2018-2020.

Though Veterans may not be currently deployed, that does not mean that the transition or ease of getting settled is easy. Now more than ever, Veterans need proper treatment so they can manage the symptoms and heal from their traumatic experiences.

What Is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder caused by someone witnessing a traumatic event.

Many Veterans experience a traumatic event during their time in the military. 

People usually assume combat to be the main traumatic event amongst Veterans that causes PTSD. However, this is not always the case. Many forms of non-combative PTSD are just as serious and debilitating, such as seeing the death of a fellow service member, sexual assault, or surprise attacks.

Some Veterans witness traumatic experiences yet do not have PTSD. Some believe it may be because of genetics and personal factors, but there is no definite answer.

A Veteran may begin feeling symptoms of PTSD shortly after the traumatic experience. Yet it is also normal for Veterans to not develop symptoms of PTSD until years after their discharge.

There are many risk factors for Veterans as to whether or not they will develop PTSD. A typical PTSD checklist includes the following: 

  • Previous trauma
  • The Veteran’s sex
  • Little to no social support
  • History of mental illness

Any of these factors can contribute to PTSD. If a Veteran feels as though they are developing symptoms of PTSD, they reflect on the risk factors and go to a medical professional to seek a proper diagnosis.

What Are the Symptoms of PTSD

A Veteran must be able to notice the symptoms of PTSD. This will allow them to acknowledge it and find a medical professional to seek a diagnosis and treatment.

Medical professionals classify the symptoms of PTSD into four categories:

Intrusive Memories:

  • A Veteran could experience flashbacks of the traumatic event
  • It may occur in dreams and nightmares
  • May produce unwanted emotional reactions


  • Trying to avoid talking to friends, family members, or public health care providers about the event
  • Avoiding people, places, or things that remind the Veteran about the event

Negative Mood or Feelings

  • Negative thoughts about yourself or others
  • Inability to remember critical details of the traumatic event
  • Difficulty expressing positive emotions
  • Feeling of hopelessness
  • Feelings of shame or guilt

Changes in Physical and Emotional Reactions:

  • Always feeling like you are in danger
  • Quick outbursts of anger
  • Trouble concentrating and sleeping
  • Easily startled or scared

The intensity of the symptoms will vary over time. Veterans must know that they have to visit a medical professional to get the help they need when they begin to feel any symptoms.

If a Veteran does not receive immediate help or treatment for PTSD, the symptoms will likely become more intense over time. This can lead a Veteran to self-destructive behavior, such as substance abuse, homelessness, or even suicide.

What Are the Best Treatments for PTSD

Treatments can come in different forms for PTSD. Most commonly, they are either in the form of psychiatry or therapy.

Not every treatment method will work for everyone. Some Veterans will respond to certain forms of treatment better than others. Veterans must find what is best for them to get the most effective treatment.

The treatment with evidence for being the most effective is therapy. It is specifically called trauma-focused psychotherapy.

There are three main types of trauma-focused psychotherapy.

Prolonged Exposure

The first type is called Prolonged Exposure (PE). In this form of therapy, the therapist will walk through the Veteran’s negative feelings about the traumatic event and have them gain control over their response. Sometimes the therapist will talk directly about the event or talk about the things that the Veteran may have avoided since the traumatic event.

Cognitive Processing Therapy

The second form is called Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT). This form of therapy has the therapist help the Veteran think differently about the trauma. By reorienting the way a Veteran thinks, they can help them lessen the intensity of the symptoms. It includes both talking about the trauma and also short writing assignments.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

The final form of therapy is called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). In this form, the therapist will have the Veteran recall to mind the tragic event. While the Veteran pays attention to a sound or an object moving back and forth, the therapist will go through how they can think differently about the event.

Different Veterans will find various methods more effective. Sometimes a doctor will recommend a mixture of both therapy and medication to make the symptoms less intense.

Veterans should see what method works best for them and stick with it. Consistency and immediate treatment are the best ways to ensure that PTSD does not worsen.

How To Receive Benefits for PTSD

Once a Veteran gets a diagnosis of PTSD, they should make a claim to get benefits and compensation.

Our experience at Berry Law allows us to advocate for Veterans effectively. We’re a team of Veterans helping Veterans — many of our experienced attorneys are former members of the Air Force, National Guard, and other U.S. military branches.

Many Veterans are unaware of the legal matters involved in the claims process.

Veterans should not go through making a claim alone. This will only produce more work and stress on their part. An experienced attorney, on the other hand, can help to clarify all the evidence the Veteran needs to make a claim and help write up the claim.

There are three main things that the evidence has to prove so that a Veteran can receive benefits for PTSD.

  1. Diagnosis of PTSD from a medical professional under the standards of DSM-5
  2. Evidence for an in-service event that caused PTSD
  3. A medical link between points 1 and 2

A doctor at a local VA medical center should be able to make an appointment to test the symptoms of PTSD.

Once a Veteran begins the claim process, the VA may have the Veteran go to a Compensation & Evaluation (C&E) exam. Failure to go to this exam or reschedule it if the Veteran cannot go can result in a denial of the claim.

It is imperative that the Veteran goes to their C&E exam so that their claim is not denied.

In the case of a claim being denied, or if the Veteran receives a lower rating than what they deserve, they can appeal the VA’s decision.


Many Veterans experience life-altering events during wartime. The war in Afghanistan left many Veterans with PTSD. Some were able to find the treatment they needed, while others were left feeling hopeless.

Veterans must know that they have opportunities for treatment and benefits if they develop PTSD. Many are willing to help and advocate for Veterans to get the help they need.

For information on VA benefits, visit our website.


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic

Afghanistan War | History, Combatants, Facts, & Timeline | Britannica

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder | MedlinePlus

PTSD and Anger in Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans | Very Well Mind

PTSD is an endless war for veterans. The news from Afghanistan is making it worse | Atlantic Council

PTSD Treatment Basics | VA

Berry Law

The attorneys at Berry Law are dedicated to helping injured Veterans. With extensive experience working with VA disability claims, Berry Law can help you with your disability appeals.

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and the reader, and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this blog are not a substitute for legal counsel.

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