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Post Traumatic Stress & PTSD

Post-traumatic stress (PTS) may occur after someone experiences, sees, or hears about a traumatic event that involves a threat to life and endangerment. Events include combat trauma, sexual and physical assaults, and life-threatening accidents, among others.


Post-traumatic stress can occur after a traumatic event like war, sexual assault, or a natural disaster. Servicemembers in the military can develop PTS from trauma that occurs in combat, such as witnessing other people be killed or seeing dead bodies on the ground or receiving threats to their lives. PTS may also occur because of trauma not only during combat, but also during training or even in times of peace. For example, military sexual trauma, or trauma because of sexual assault or sexual harassment occurs during peacetime, training, or war and can cause men and women to develop PTS. The rate of PTS is higher among service members than civilians because, in addition to exposure to life-threatening situations related to combat, there is a high rate of sexual trauma in the military


Many traumatized Veterans express stress-related reactions including heightened anxiety, sadness and depression, anger and volatility, shame and guilt, and avoidance of social interaction.  Improvement from post-traumatic stress injury can improve within 3 months or last longer and may lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This condition involves long-term challenges such as re-experiencing the traumatic events in nightmares and flashbacks, emotional detachment from others, and unhealthy behavior changes e.g., driving recklessly and engaging in self-injurious behavior. Both the individual Veteran and family members are affected by these responses.


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