Most veterans who had persistent post-traumatic stress a decade or more after serving in the Vietnam War have shown surprisingly little improvement since then, and a large percentage have died, a new study finds, updating landmark research that began a generation ago. Members of minorities who enlisted before finishing high school were especially likely to develop such war-related trauma, as were those veterans who had killed multiple times in combat, the study found.
The new analysis, financed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, is part of the first effort to track a large sample of service members through their adult lives, the authors said.
The study, expected to be presented today, confirms that the vast majority of veterans learn to cope with them. Yet most of those who do not — 11 percent, in the Vietnam sample — could live with traumatic stress for the remainder of their lives. An estimated 13 percent of active-duty soldiers and 10 percent of Marines have post-traumatic stress disorder, according to government figures.