War can result in lasting psychological scars. This has been proved by a recent study on Vietnam War veterans.
This study was conducted by researchers from Columbia University and other institutions, who found that almost 19% of Vietnam War veterans were affected by post-traumatic stress disorder as a direct impact of military combat. However, higher and lower figures were reported by the contradictory federal studies from the late 1980s. The recent study was invigorated by the ongoing war in Iraq.
Though this study confirmed the presence of post-traumatic stress, it also reported that most of the veterans recovered over time, often without treatment from mental health professionals. It also confirmed that the 1,200 veterans studied had given reliable information about their war experience since the findings were based on military records not available to researchers in previous studies.
"The more severe the exposure to war zone stresses, the greater the likelihood of developing post-traumatic stress disorder and having it persist for many years," said Bruce P. Dohrenwend , an epidemiologist at Columbia University. However, the disorder was identified almost 12 years after the war and it was often based on veterans' memories that might be incorrect.
Dohrenwend hopes further research is done in this area including studies that begin examining soldiers once they return from the Iraq war, will benefit future veterans.