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Before the Subcommittee on PTSD of the Committee on Gulf War & Health: Physiologic, Psychologic, And Psychosocial Effects of Deployment-Related Stress Institute of Medicine Of the National Academy of Sciences Regarding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Diagnosis, treatment, and Compensation

July 6, 2006

Foremost, Vietnam Veterans of America applauds this Committee for its obvious concern about the mental health care of our troops and veterans that we saw evidenced at your first public meeting. The quality of your questions and demeanor indicated the both the sincerity and the sophistication of your concern.
No one really knows how many of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have been or will be affected by their wartime experiences. Despite the early intervention by psychological personnel, no one really knows how serious their emotional and mental problems will become, nor how chronic both the neuro-psychiatric wounds (particularly PTSD) and the resulting impact that this will have on their physiological health. However, recent reports have suggested that troops returning from service in Afghanistan and Iraq are suffering mental health problems at a rate higher than the levels seen in Vietnam War veterans. Other reports indicate that the service members who served in a war zone in Iraq or elsewhere are getting sick at a higher rate than those who were not deployed. In fact, VVA has no reason to believe that the rate of veterans of this war having their lives significantly disrupted at some point in their lifetime by PTSD will be any less than those estimated for Vietnam veterans by the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study.

Results of the NVVRS demonstrated that some 15.2 percent of all male and 8.5 percent of all female Vietnam theater veterans were current PTSD cases (i.e., at some time during six months prior to interview). Rates for those exposed to high levels of war zone stress were dramatically higher (i.e., a four-fold difference for men and seven-fold difference for women) than rates for those with low-moderate stress exposure. Rates of lifetime prevalence of PTSD (i.e., at any time in the past, including the previous six months) were 30.9 percent among male and 26.9 among female Vietnam theater veterans.

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