Vietnam veterans with PTSD carry nearly twice the risk of early death compared to troops from that era who don't have combat-related anxiety, new research shows. The findings — a follow-up to landmark, 1980s analysis of more than 2,300 Vietnam vets — “paint a disturbing portrait of the course of PTSD and its long-term medical consequences,” said Dr. William Schlenger, a scientist with the research firm, Abt Associates. He offered preliminary findings to the American Psychological Association Convention in Washington, D.C. on Friday.
Among the studied Vietnam vets, post-traumatic stress disorder was associated with a higher rate of mortality due to both cancer and “external causes,” such as suicide and accidents, experts reported. The follow-up was conducted for Congress and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, updating research on the 2,300 Vietnam veterans originally done 25 years ago. “The study’s key takeaway,” Schlenger said, “is that for some, PTSD is not going away. It is chronic and prolonged, and for veterans with PTSD, the war is not over.”
— Bill Briggs
First published August 11 2014, 6:02 PM