Study finds similarities in vets of the Civil War and Vietnam

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Study finds similarities in vets of the Civil War and Vietnam

CHICAGO – War is hell in any era, and a study looking back at the health of U.S. Civil War veterans released last week shows it is hardest on the youngest and those who witness the most carnage.

Nearly two in five veterans of the 1861-65 war later developed both mental and physical ailments such as heart disease and gastrointestinal problems.

That was among findings from the analysis of records on 15,027 veterans treated by government doctors.

Soldiers who enlisted between the ages of 9 and 17 were nearly twice as likely to suffer postwar disorders than veterans who enlisted at 31 or older, said study author Judith Pizarro of the the University of California, Irvine.

The younger soldiers also were at higher risk of dying early…

     

Civil War battles frequently culminated in hand-to-hand combat and the conflict was particularly stressful because it meant losing or even facing relatives and friends on the battlefield.

An estimated 600,000 Americans died in the war, more than in any other conflict in U.S. history.

Prisoners of war also were susceptible to postwar problems, although men who survived war wounds tended to remain hardier of body, according the study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

The findings “strikingly echo the results of research into the mental health status of Vietnam veterans,” wrote Dr. Roger Pitman of Harvard Medical School in an editorial.

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