FROM: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
PTSD in Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans
PTSD is a significant public health problem in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) deployed and non-deployed Veterans and should not be considered an outcome solely related to deployment.
A study finds that 15.7% of OEF/OIF deployed Veterans screened positive for PTSD compared to 10.9% of non-deployed Veterans. Overall 13.5% of study participants screened positive for PTSD.
Researchers determined if Veterans screened positive for PTSD by looking at survey answers to the PTSD Checklist Civilian Version (PCL-C). The PCL-C is a screening instrument routinely used in VA.
PTSD Among Recent Veterans – Who Screens Positive?
The National Health Study for a New Generation of U.S. Veterans is a health survey of 60,000 Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) Veterans, and non-deployed Veterans who served during the same time period. Researchers sent Veterans a survey which included questions that help VA health care providers screen Veterans for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is the first study to report positive screens for PTSD in OEF/OIF-era Veterans who were not deployed and those who do not use VA health care.
Overall screening positive for PTSD: deployed Veterans, 15.7%; non-deployed Veterans, 10.9%. The overall percentage of study participants screening positive for PTSD was 13.5%
Screened positive by VA health care user status: deployed VA health care users, 24.7%; non-deployed VA health care users, 17.5%; deployed VA health care non-users, 9.8%; non-deployed VA health care non-users, 7.9%.
Screened positive by service branch: deployed Army Veterans, 18.6%; non-deployed Army Veterans, 13.8%; deployed Air Force Veterans, 6.6%; non-deployed Air Force Veterans, 6.2%; deployed Navy Veterans, 12.3%; non-deployed Navy Veterans, 10.1%; deployed Marine Corps Veterans, 20.6%; non-deployed Marine Corps Veterans, 10.5%.
Screened positive by unit component: deployed active duty, 18.5%; non-deployed active duty, 13.2%; deployed National Guard, 14.5%; non-deployed National Guard, 7.5%; deployed Reserves, 11.9%; non-deployed Reserves, 7.2%.
Screened positive by gender: deployed males, 16.2%; non-deployed males, 10.5%; deployed females, 12.5%; non-deployed females, 12.3%. Deployed males were 1.39 times more likely to screen positive for PTSD than deployed females. Among females, prevalence of a positive screen for PTSD was nearly equal among deployed and non-deployed Veterans.
Screened positive by race/ethnicity: deployed Hispanics, 19.7%; non-deployed Hispanics, 13.7%; deployed White non-Hispanic, 14.1%; non-deployed White non-Hispanic, 9.2%; deployed African American non-Hispanic, 21.9%; non-deployed African American non-Hispanic, 15.7%; deployed non-Hispanics other race, 16.2%; non-deployed non-Hispanics other race, 15.7%; deployed missing race/ethnicity, 23.5%; non-deployed missing race/ethnicity, 10.1%.
PTSD is a significant public health problem among OEF/OIF deployed and non-deployed Veterans and is not solely related to deployment.
These data are from the National Health Study for a New Generation of U.S. Veterans.
Findings from the New Generation Study
The findings are from the National Health Study for a New Generation of U.S. Veterans, a long-term study on the health of 30,000 OEF/OIF Veterans and 30,000 Veterans from the same era who were not deployed.
This is the first study to report positive screens for PTSD in OEF/OIF-era Veterans who were not deployed and those who do not use VA health care. Read the study abstract.
Talk to your health care provider if you are concerned about PTSD. Effective treatments for PTSD exist.
Not enrolled in the VA health care system? Find out if you qualify. OEF, OIF, and Operation New Dawn combat Veterans are eligible for VA health care for five years after leaving the military. There are other ways to qualify too, including by having a service-connected disability.
Bliese PD, Wright KM, Adler AB, Cabrera O, Castro CA, Hoge CW. Validating the primary care posttraumatic stress disorder screen and the posttraumatic stress disorder checklist with soldiers returning from combat. J Consult Clin Psychol 2008; 76: 272-281.