Veteran PTSD Statistics: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Facts and Figures
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has become commonly associated with those who have served in the armed forces, particularly in combat. As more research becomes available on this aspect of mental health, it has become apparent that the numbers of those living with it are increasing.
What is PTSD? By definition, it is an anxiety disorder that can begin after a traumatic incident. For veterans, this can be combat or even just exposure to a situation over which they had no control. Of course, PTSD is far from limited to only veterans, as many incidences can cause symptoms. This list includes, but is not limited to:
- Military and/or combat exposure or engagement
- Sexual abuse or trauma
- Physical assault or abuse
- Natural disasters
- Car accidents
- Terrorist attacks
The severity of PTSD symptoms can vary greatly and be dependent on many factors. This includes length of exposure, closeness to any persons injured or killed, and how much control the individual feels he or she had over the situation.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a serious condition and must be treated with caution. Symptoms such as reliving the event, inability to sleep, drastic change in mood or behavior, and developing a substance abuse problem are all signs to be aware of.
Sadly, many veterans are unable to find peace and commit suicide each year. A 2013 study conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs showed that from 1999 to 2010, approximately 22 veterans were dying by suicide each day. The majority of these suicides, nearly 70%, were committed by veterans over the age of 50. About 97% of the suicides studied were committed by males.
As for female veterans, this demographic continues to rise with higher numbers of female service members. This, in turn, can lead to a higher rate of PTSD symptoms among female veterans. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, a common trigger for these symptoms comes from sexual assault. Approximately one in five women seen by the VA report some sort of military sexual trauma (MST). The department continues to ramp up its support in partnership with Women’s Health Services to offer the needed guidance for those suffering from PTSD as a veteran, male or female.
So what has been done to assist the veterans suffering from varying degrees of PTSD?
Several federal initiatives have made their way through the judicial system in an effort to combat veteran suicide rates. The Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act was passed in 2007. The JOVSPA was intended to create a comprehensive program for suicide prevention for veterans. This program includes assessments, 24-hour accessible mental health care, and additional research into veteran mental health.
The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention was created in 2010, with the intention to create more resources for veterans and recruit more mental health professionals to assist with this important work. Additionally, the 2018 federal budget was expanded to allow for better mental health screenings for veterans.
Treatment for PTSD is not a one size fits all solution, nor is it as simple as prescribing medication. For this reason, it’s important to continue to learn as much as possible about this condition and ways to treat it. Veteran PTSD is a real issue, even for those who have not engaged in physical combat, and it must be taken seriously in order to save lives and help our veterans.