Thursday, September 14, 2017

Many Vietnam Veterans Stronger After PTSD and Healing

Do you want the facts on veterans committing suicide? Better start with those who did not to change the outcome.


Majority of older local Vietnam veterans have grown stronger from combat, study finds

WBFO 88.7 NPR
Marian Hetherly
September 13, 2017

Chacko found this attitude among more than half the 117 veterans from Tonawanda, Salamanca and Rochester, aged 65 and older, who had their boots on the ground in Vietnam. He said the higher the level of PTSD, the more difficult it was to grow stronger from the experience of combat.

Most people have heard of PTSD. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health problem that can develop after witnessing a life-threatening event.
Lesser known is PTG. While recording the oral histories of local Vietnam War veterans, a University at Buffalo researcher found that post-traumatic growth can exist at the same time as PTSD. Marian Hetherly explains in Part 1 of WNED|WBFO's three-part series, "Our Vietnam Voices." 

According to the U.S. Veterans Administration, some 500,000 of the 3 million U.S. troops that served in Vietnam suffered from PTSD. Their rates of suicide, alcoholism, drug addiction and divorce were markedly higher among veterans.

In the study of local Vietnam War veterans conducted by Thomas Chacko for his master's degree in psychology, he found a PTSD level of 24 (self-report)-30 percent (interview). However, he also found something more positive also was found.
"PTG is a positive change experienced as people struggle with their traumatic experiences," Chacko said to a group of local Vietnam War veterans. "It's like people coming out of a very stressful, traumatic event becoming stronger. You know that old saying, 'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger' has been, I would say, one of the remarkable findings of this research."
Top that off with their wives and families struggling to learn all we could to help them heal. Not willing to suffer in silence or accept any of it without a fight, they achieved the impossible and got the government to do something about what all other generations came home from war with...the war to fight inside of themselves.