Vietnams Psychological Toll on Troops Revised Downward

THURSDAY, Aug. 17 (HealthDay News) -- A new and exhaustive analysis of military records could rewrite the history books on how many U.S. soldiers suffered post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after serving in Vietnam.

The five-year study concluded that 18.7 percent of Vietnam veterans experienced PTSD symptoms -- a much lower figure than the 30.9 percent cited in a less-rigorous but much-quoted 1988 government study.

Besides shedding light on the mental aftereffects of the Vietnam war, the new findings also have relevance for the current American engagement in Iraq, experts said.

"Both wars have been described as 'wars without fronts,' where there's great difficulty telling peaceful civilians from enemy combatants," noted lead researcher Bruce Dohrenwend, chief of research at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. "Whether rates of PTSD will be the same, higher or lower in U.S. veterans of the Iraq war will depend on differences, as well as similarities, between the two wars," he added.

The findings appear in the Aug. 18 issue of Science.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder involving nightmares, flashbacks and panic attacks linked to event "triggers" that develop after exposure to combat or other extremely disturbing events.

In the decades following the pullout of U.S. troops from Vietnam, the actual number of veterans psychologically scarred by what they had encountered in the war became the subject of heated debate. One 1988 study, conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, estimated a relatively low lifetime rate of PTSD among veterans of 14.7 percent.

But a second government study -- the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study (NVVRS) -- calculated a much higher figure of 30.9 percent. Both studies relied heavily on veterans' self-reports of PTSD symptoms and exposure to wartime trauma.
Sticks toe into dangerous water....

Some of you may have noticed (or perhaps I overestimate myself) that I frequently have very strong views on issues related to (un)employment.
Comes from having spent some time working with the long-term unemployed.

Anyway - There is a sizable group within our society who are to all intents and purposes, unemployable, unless they're very, very lucky.
"In the trade" we referred to them as "strangers" it's a polite or PC if you must term for "misfits". There's a wide variety of "strangers" from all walks of life and with all kinds of hang-ups and peculiarities which will prevent 99% of employers from wanting to take them on. However, it has to be said that a very large number of those I dealt with were ex-services. (Probably vying with ex-cons as the single largest "grouping").
As far as I'm aware, although I may not have been aware, none of the guys I dealt with actually suffered PTSD or any related mental or nervous complaint brought about by their service. Those identified as suffering such become (for employment purposes) disabled or incapcitated and thus didn't come into our particular little niche.

The actual point of this posting is a frank admission that in the case of some of our more, shall we say, extreme, cases of strangeness clients might have received a suggestion that playing the PTSD angle could be to their advantage.

Before anyone rips into me on this issue for "taking advantage", you need to realise just how f**ked "strangers" are in todays employment market... You could have qualifications up the wazoo and be nixed for life by the fact that you are unable to hold more than a five minute social coversation without reference to train numbers. In the case of ex-servicemen the problem usually lies with a degree of institutionalisation, coupled perhaps with a less than ideal resettlement package and very frequently a feeling of immense "pointlessness" within the civvy job market.

Anyway... digressing again. If we attempted to get people to consider taking advantage of the public and social awareness of PTSD and other trauma related injuries, I'm sure the Septics did too.... Which my have skewed the figures. As many of the vets approach retirement ... Well you can work the rest out yourself.
I did wonder on reading the article, what percentage of the original study group had taken a premature self-inflicted exit, or who had since died of other conflict related issues?
PartTimePongo said:
I did wonder on reading the article, what percentage of the original study group had taken a premature self-inflicted exit, or who had since died of other conflict related issues?
Also, I can't see that many who are seriously affected by PTSD being very available for the survey. If our experience in the UK is anything to go by, a very large proportion of sufferers will be sleeping anonymously under bridges and in doorways, and in the case of the States, in the mountains of Montana.

Without their input, how can the survey be anywhere near accurate?
As accurate as any statistics.....
Fair post Biscuits,

The "pointless" civvy life that you mentioned ws often bought into conversation by my US friends who make up the percentages from Vietnam.

I wonder though if the downsizing of the number has any relationship to the pressure that the US Government currently faces from troops hit with similar problems as a result of their' service in the Middle East?

AWOLS point about guys sleeping rough and living in the hills, etc. is right. Having been homeless myself, I take an interest in the demographics of rough sleepers and am truly concerned about the number of ex-soldiers who I've met in this country (within the last 12 mths) who are now living in this way. I've spoken at length to a few guys, and contrary to popular belief, they tend not to be drugged up, whino pizzedheads, as the populist press often paints them.

Really must learn how to spell!
I think it's fundamentally flawed.

Is this going to be used as a stick to beat the Veterans Administration over funding with?
If the US Government withdraws funding from the many VA programs, it will really go down badly with Mr and Mrs Main Street, USA (IMHO). Bush will do this at his peril - the US sense of looking after their veterans is very strong. Possibly during one of Blair and Bush's love-ins, Tone has told him how much money our government saves by not doing enough in this area.

Rand Mode = off

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