Specific Factors Identified that Increase Veteran’s Risk for Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms

New research suggests that some veterans from Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) had risk factors for post-traumatic stress symptomatology (PTSS) that were similar to those risk factors found in veterans of Vietnam. The researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) found that certain pathways that contribute to PTSS were present in both groups of veterans and were different from unique mechanisms found in the female veterans of OEF/OIF. Recent studies have continually shown that some people are more vulnerable to psychological stress as a result of trauma. This study was designed to identify which mechanisms contributed to the development of PTSS in both male and female veterans. The researchers examined 579 veterans of OEF and OIF, and compared the results to those revealed from research on Vietnam veterans.

This most recent study, along with previous studies, showed that there are several contributing risk factors that are present prior to deployment, during deployment and after the veteran has returned home. The study also revealed that many of the risk factors begin prior to deployment and are present for both male and female veterans. The researchers discovered that female veterans’ ability to readjust was more dependent on their family relationships while deployed than their male counterparts’.

Dawne Vogt, Ph.D., researcher at the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in the VA Boston Healthcare System, associate professor of psychiatry at BUSM and lead author of the study, said, “These findings provide support for the generalizability of mechanisms of risk for PTSS across Veteran groups, and suggest that there may be some key pathways through which risk factors contribute to PTSS that generalize across different Veteran populations.” She added that “concerns about relationship disruptions demonstrated a significant impact on PTSS through its effect on post-deployment stressors and post-deployment social support for women only, suggesting two additional avenues through which family concerns set the stage for PTSS in this group.”

© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Mark Whisenhunt

    Mark Whisenhunt

    July 28th, 2011 at 6:32 PM

    The study sounds like the effect on women and men is generally different on average and that it is critical to identify the drivers of the differences.

    Having grown up with a father of the Vietnam era that clearly suffered from PTSS this type of work needs to keep going forward. The poor veterans suffering and their families have places to turn but the trauma is dramatic and sometimes destroys relationships. Quality of life is definitely affected and I hope that eventually this stress can be eliminated.

  • Samm


    July 29th, 2011 at 4:28 AM

    Veterans have seen some things that the rest of us could never face. They have not only had to face down the enemy but also some of their strongest fears. They have been expected to bury these and to hide them and that has to do a real number on the psyche. I feel so sorry for those who have come home and think that life is now going to be peachy but then they are faced with the realization that there are some memories and things that can’t be left behind on the battlefield. This will be an enduring struggle for them, so the more answers we get for them the better their lives have the potential to be.

  • jennifer


    July 29th, 2011 at 12:10 PM

    stress or happiness.be it whatever it’s all dependent on what’s on our mind and everything that’s happening in our lives.thus every person will experience the same event differently and it’s affect on them will be different as well.that’s why all the PTSD treatment should be tailor-made for each person.

  • Hannah


    July 29th, 2011 at 3:42 PM

    Knowing that you have a solid family relationship to come back to has to create such hope in soldiers who have had to go overseas.

  • Hannah George

    Hannah George

    July 29th, 2011 at 3:53 PM

    has to be so helpful for soldiers going overseas to know that they have a strong family system back home to return to. what a gem that kind of support system can be, and awfully encouraging.

  • kennedy


    July 30th, 2011 at 8:17 AM

    there are a million things that these brave souls have to go through, not only in the battlefield but also off it.staying away from your family and kids while they are little,not knowing for sure if you’re even going to return alive to them must be such a hard thing to digest and move forward…

  • Matthew C.

    Matthew C.

    July 31st, 2011 at 6:24 PM

    The poor soldiers both woman and man. How much suffering and trauma have they experienced with their leaders telling them to continue moving forward. How many of their close friends have they witnessed hurt or worse. Just think of how we react when we lose someone close. They never have that time or that luxury of recovering from the loss. Hopefully all the research and efforts can help these troubled souls make it back to what we would call normal life.

  • margaret rodey

    margaret rodey

    June 29th, 2012 at 10:49 AM

    Here’s a hypothetical question What if the rapists in the military look for women who react differently to stress in order to facilitate getting away with the rape they prepetrate and the VA in their intelligence has decided ling ago, that any woman they can say has been not reacting correctly to stress, is not right to say she was raped but instead just mentally ill and needs several medications mostly to shut her up before she reaches a person who actually cares.but the VA is years away from being not biased actually or bigot as in a friend to the rapist as in sympathetic to the rapist to these women.

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