Long Buried, PTSD Emerges in WWII Veterans

1 in 20 surviving vets affected
By Sarah Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 16, 2009 12:30 PM CDT
Herman Zeitchik of Silver Spring, Md., a World War II veteran, places his hand on the inscription for the Battle of The Bulge at the World War II Memorial in Washington, May 25, 2009.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – For many World War II veterans, decades-old memories of war aren’t as deeply buried as they once believed. The veterans administration estimates that 5% of the 2.5 million US World War II vets suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Older vets came of age when “expressing psychological symptoms or distress was pretty stigmatized,” a psychiatrist says—meaning emotional wounds often went untreated.

So why is PTSD emerging just now? The changes that come with aging are a factor. The death of a spouse or friend can trigger symptoms, as can health problems. For some, old age simply allows more time to think. “We find many individuals who have … worked out ways to develop defenses,” says one VA pschologist. “But as they get older those defenses don’t work quite as well.” (Read more World War II stories.)

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