Vietnam Vets Still Battle PTSD Decades Later

New VA study shows it can last a lifetime

By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 8, 2014 3:30 PM CDT

(Newser) – Post-traumatic stress doesn't fizzle away after a few years—or perhaps even a lifetime. About 11% of Vietnam War veterans still suffer from the disorder today, according to a new VA study, reports USA Today. It builds off landmark PTSD research conducted in the 1980s and finds that about one-third also battle major depression. The study also found that 18% of vets who suffered from the disorder had died before retirement age, twice the percentage of those without PTSD, reports the New York Times. Minorities, those who enlisted before high school graduation, and those who killed multiple times were also found to be at a higher risk.

"This study shows us what the road ahead is going to look like," says one of its authors, a psychiatry professor at NYU. "A significant number of veterans are going to have PTSD for a lifetime unless we do something radically different," he adds, referring to vets from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Along those lines, a doctor at King's College London finds it "striking" that most of the Vietnam vets with PTSD had discussed their mental health in recent VA visits. "Clearly it doesn’t seem to have done much good." (In more uplifting news, a Vietnam vet recently had his wheelchair fixed—by employees at Lowe's.)

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington.   (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
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