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Press Release

August 18, 2006


No. 06-31

Mokie Porter
301-585-4000, Ext. 146


Review of 1988 Data Highlights Need
for National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Follow-up Study


(Washington, D.C. ) – “The reanalysis of data collected in the 1980s, reported today in the journal Science, concludes that nearly one out of every five (18.7 percent) Vietnam veterans had experienced Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and that nearly one out every ten (9.1 percent) Vietnam veterans was still suffering from chronic and disabling PTSD more than ten years after the war was over," said John Rowan, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA). 

"This authoritative study by leading experts reaffirms and confirms our government's obligation and need to provide appropriate mental health services for veterans who were psychologically wounded by their wartime service.  It is consistent with studies published earlier this year which suggest that between 11 percent and 17 percent of soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq respectively have had symptoms of Post-traumatic Stress upon their return,” Rowan said.


“Rather than disputing numbers, our focus must remain on ensuring that there are accurate, standardized early screening, diagnosis, and clinically effective, evidence-based treatment and recovery programs for all of our veterans suffering psychological trauma as a result of their military combat experiences.  And Congress must ensure that there is adequate funding and trained personnel for both the VA and the Department of Defense to deliver these services and programs to our nation’s veterans,” Rowan said.


“What is beyond argument is that the more combat exposure a soldier sees, the greater the odds are that he, and increasingly she, will suffer mental and emotional stress that can become debilitating.  And in wars without fronts, ‘combat support troops’ are just as likely to be affected by the same traumas as infantrymen,” Rowan said.


“VVA also believes that tens of thousands of Vietnam veterans who in fact have suffered from Post-traumatic Stress seek neither treatment nor compensation because of a variety of factors, including pride and their own self-image.  Rather than attempt to minimize the numbers, the government must acknowledge the clinical damage and provide the necessary clinical services.


“No one really knows how many of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have been or will be adversely affected by their wartime experiences.  And despite early intervention by psychological personnel, no one can project how serious their emotional and mental problems will become, or how chronic will be both the neuro-psychiatric wounds and their impact on physical health.   Given the nature of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, VVA has no reason to believe that the rate of PTSD for veterans of OIF and OEF  will be any less than that of Vietnam veterans. Quibbles about studies and statistics cannot mask the simple, undisputed fact that the number of veterans receiving VA disability compensation for PTSD (217,893 in 2004) far exceeds the number of troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan. The recent study reanalyzing data from the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study  (NVVRS)(1988) only underscores VVA’s belief that the congressionally mandated NVVRS follow-up study be conducted so that there can truly be a longitudinal study of Vietnam veterans that will be useful both for us and for the veterans who follow us.


“The bottom line must be to make sure that the new generation of returning veterans gets the assistance and clinical interventions they need, so that they don't develop chronic PTSD.”


Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is the nation's only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families.  VVA's founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”

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