Findings from a National Study of Female Vietnam War Veterans

Findings from a National Study of Female Vietnam War Veterans

During and after the Vietnam War, mental-health professionals and behavioral scientists began to notice adjustment problems in some veterans returning from Southeast Asia. At first, these problems were characterized as a “post-Vietnam syndrome.” In 1980, this condition was officially recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.


The National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study

The National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study (NVVRS) is the only national study of Vietnam veterans that included women. Of the 1,632 Vietnam veterans in the study, 432 were women veterans who had served in or around Vietnam sometime between 1964 and 1975. Most of these women were registered nurses, and 90% had been commissioned officers. Over half had served more than 4 years in the military, and about one-fifth had served 20 years or more. At the time of the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study, about 45% of these women were married; less than half had children.


The National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study found that approximately 27% of women Vietnam veterans suffered from PTSD sometime during their postwar lives. Over the last few years, researchers at the National Center for PTSD have been looking further into the information collected in the NVVRS. One part of our research work has been to determine how factors other than war-zone experiences might be related to the severity of PTSD.

We have found that high levels of social support after the war played an important role for women. Those women who reported that they had friends and family available to them were less likely to have symptoms of PTSD. In particular, emotional support-having someone to talk to and someone who really cares-helped women to adjust more comfortably to postwar life. It was also important for the returning women veterans to feel that they could rely on others to assist them with tasks in times of need. Veterans who had this form of support also suffered less from PTSD than those without.

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Posted by on September 5, 2004, With Reads Filed under Veterans. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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