VETERANS | Rates of PTSD Among Veterans Still Rising. Lessons Learned and Ignored.


In 2009, the Veterans Administration treated 143, 530 new PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD) patients. It treated 134,000 in 2008.

PTSD comes about from many kinds of 'traumatic' experience and prolonged stress, and is not due just to experiencing combat.

The worldwide average for PTSD is apprximately 28-30 people per 100,000 people in the general population, or .03 percent.

However, approximately 10% of today's U.S. military are believed to be experiencing PTSD at any one time. This level is 34 times higher than the general population.

PTSD was not officially recognized as a medical condition until 1978, post-Vietnam. Approximately 830,000 former Vietnam service era military members were treated post facto. Twenty to 25 years after Vietnam vets were diagnosed as having PTSD almost 80% still report related symptoms.

PTSD was considered a temporary stress condition prior to 1978, even though military medical statistics document a very different story. During World War II, one-tenth of American military were hospitalized for mental disturbances between 1942 and 1945, and after thirty-five days of uninterrupted combat, 98% of them manifested psychiatric disturbances in varying degrees. It was common for these troops to become out-of-site, out-of-mind which has been the military's traditional approach to dealing with these battlefield stress soldiers.

LESSON LEARNED

The lesson learned from treating Vietnam veterans, although belatedly embraced by the military in the current war until 2005 and 2006, was that most military members will move on successfully with their lives if treated.

Many of our veterans today have served in combat conditions far longer than their predecessors, with combat tours greatly extended and rotation periods shortened.

Learn more about PTSD and America's military veterans.

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