When you consider the level of ferocity and length of time of some of the battles in WWII and Korea compared to Vietnam, why do there appear to be a higher proportion of vets exhibiting PTSD? Is it because it was undiagnosed or not talked about, or are there other reasons?


MickJune 10th, 2006 at 4:23 pm

Going back to WW1, WW2 and Korea, before PTSD was given this terminology, diggers were told they had battle fatigue or they were shell shocked. I think that they were of the era where you told yourself to get over it and move on. Obviously that was the generation at the time and when they came home, even though they were lauded as heroes there wasn’t any help available to them so they just went back to work and struggled on.

I had a couple of uncles who served in WW2, I remember when we would go and visit them, my old man used to tell me that Uncle Ron was suffering from shell shock. I remember speaking to my cousin at Ron’s funeral and she told me of the violence, drunkeness and depression that went on within the family.

He apparently belted his missus and kids well into thier teens, the eldest son left home as soon as he turned 17 and joined the navy, thats how bad it was, he only went back to visit a few times in the 30 years that he served.

Now in hind sight I can understand what he was deealing with, if those blokes had the help that was available now, maybe life wouldn’t have been so bad.

My wife is the daughter of a WW2 digger and she and her three brother all suffer with depression, my wife suffers severely, her mother left when she was 3 years old and she was brought up by her old man. He was a srtict disciplinarian and it shows on her today.

I can understand why the mother left although I can’t understand why she didn’t take her daughter, if he had the help available today maybe things would have been better for her and her brothers.

I think that diggers from all wars and conflicts suffer the same but it was the help that is available that made the difference. Most Vietnam Veterans took many years to realise that they had problems, whereas the blokes from the more recent conflicts, Timor, Iraq etc. recognise they have problems almost straight away and I think that is largely due to those Vietnam Vets who fought for way things are today.

Anyway thats the way I see it.

adminJuly 7th, 2006 at 6:09 pm

The seemingly high incidence of PTSD from the Vietnam conflict is perhaps addressed in the book “The Sharp End” by Brian Hennessey. He states in part “The difference was betwen the types of war, not the generations. ….there were factors that reduced the veterans stress in WWII. These included justification for the war, identifiable military objectives, and a well defined hatred of the enemy , its exposure to combat totalled a period of six weeks only. WWII soldiers were rotated through the front lines, they were not exposed to combat every second of their tour of duty……The Big Red One for example spent 4 years in the pacific Theatre…..When the war was over they returned home as heroes, for their communities were united in their desire for victory.

A very interesting book and well worth a read.

David MathesonDecember 30th, 2006 at 8:59 am

Hello all,
Is PTSD really so common in Vietnam Veterans???
Is the diagnosis of PTSD a cover up??/
I have a view that Toxic Brain Syndrome (TBS) is being covered up by consecutive governments around the world at the behest of the major chemical companies.
Doe’s anyone have any thoughts re PTSD v TBS??
Kind regards,
David Matheson

adminJanuary 5th, 2007 at 8:27 am

Hi Dave,
I’ll get a few in the know to check it out.

FrankMarch 25th, 2007 at 11:46 am

Vietnam 1965 to Feb 1968 TET. PTSD??? Painfull, lethal. Undiagnosed by design. BS Just plain denied. By the American Medical establishment and the U.S. Military. Haven’t you heard? Get over it! It wasn’t nothin! Quit whining! WWII and Korea were real wars and they are OK, My Ass!!!.

Ok, tell that to my friends their families and the other names On the wall total 59,214 U.S. “KIA”. (That’s not a car.) who are not with us today other than photo’s and memories. Don’t know the number of our allies. But their blood is with ours and the pain is with their families. PTSD, No Diagnosis, no pay, no cure, no treatment.

This I do know, today some piece of sh*t can have a 2 minute trauma and they have PTSD and the sympathy of the world, along with a payday if they pick the right lawyer. I also know this for a fact. Try being in the bush for 25 out of 30 days in and out, same paths same bushes, same helicopter crews and the flight to indian country, same VC looking for that golden opportunity to ambush you or blow you and your team up.

Then when you do get to stand down your in Base camp and Charlie, the best Morterman in the world, desides to send you to the bunker for the evening, while He practices trying to take out the T.O.C. or the commo bunker, mess hall if you have one and the sh*tters.

Dau Tieng was called morter city. Wanna take a guess why? I have never met a WWII or Korean war vet that didn’t rotate to the rear once and a while. Read my lips there was no rear in NAM. And what was called the rear was populated by “Rear Area Mother F****s” The bunker line with Charlie was better.

PTSD?? Who’s got it? Don’t know, I got a case of the Paratrooper Red Ass. And no sympathy for a f***in 2 minute, instantaneous case of PTSD after America said Vietnam vet were whinners and just wanted us to go away. Do I feel that way now? F*** yes a parade 30 years later and I’m sorry, doesn’t get it. I just know the low life pascifist Democrats and Anti war protested like Cindy Sheehan and Jane Fonda should f*** off and Die.

But most of all I pray that they treat the Afghan and Iraq Vets with the level of Honor, Dignity and respect they deserve. And that the Military Hospitals and the VA rehabilitates and pays then for their sacrifices. Without all the BS that Viet Vets went thru. I’ll take the Jungle anyday. God Bless Men and Women all over the world willing to fight and die for our freedom and the Freedom of the Democracy’s of the world.

And f*** the Sons of Bitches that complain about how it’s done. Freedom is only payed for with the Blood of Combat Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen.
Black Jack 59er B-31 5th SFG (Airborne) RVN III Corps

adminApril 2nd, 2007 at 10:14 am

I can feel your pain Black Jack. Thank you for your heartfelt contribution.I had to edit some of the words, only for the reason that I don’t want this site blocked by some search engines.

Black Jack 59erApril 2nd, 2007 at 1:55 pm

Thanks Bill, I’m still a little pissed, That’s another story, you know Anger management doesn’t stop dreams and intrusive thoughts. Nor does it take the names of my buddies that are on the wall, off. And ressurrect them!

Can you imagine that the Anti everything crowd was going to assemble at the Vietnam wall Memorial on the 17th of March of this year? And march to the capitol, well about 20,00 vets showed up and the anti crowd didn’t have courage to approach the wall. I guess that courage is not part of their character.

The question that always enters my mind is why do we even “Pay Attention?” If they got no press and no one went to their movies or patronized their businesses or their jobs, they wouldn’t exist. They are more hostile than any enemy I have fought anywhere.

During a fire fight most G.I.’s are focused on the job, the mission and survival and making sure your buddies survive, then the anger may or may not come. That is part of P.T.S.D. The protesters come pissed off and I really don’t see why they are so mad. We haven’t killed any of them yet!!!

I think I was better this time your edit time should be short. God Bless and pray for our troops in harms way, they know we are, at least most of us in America. The soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines in Vietnam didn’t feel that comfort and compassion.

Black Jack 59er

adminApril 2nd, 2007 at 4:27 pm

Hi Black Jack

I don’t think the public in Australia is confused about the job our soldiers etc are doing in Iraq, just confused about the reasons our country is doing it. We went in because of “weapons of mass destruction”, but we’re still there because of the terrorism threat, supposedly.

The whole thing’s a mess, just like Vietnam, and it’s only going to get messier.

Our Anzac Day is on 25th April and turnouts are increasing every year to support the job our service personnel have done.


Black Jack 59erApril 4th, 2007 at 1:26 am

God Bless the Aussies. I worked with them out of a little village called Beria, as I remember between Vung Tau and Long Thanh near Bear Cat. We lost some team huys in a helicopter crash near Bay Loc and were unable to locate the crash sight in the jungle and we were prevented form insertion by a higher authority because of heavy enemy activity in the area. Today, I guess that they figured we were worth more alive than the risk taken to recovery our team mates and the air crew. Then, we were all pissed.

Black Jack 59erApril 4th, 2007 at 1:59 am

God Bless the Aussies. I worked with them out of a little village called Buria, as I remember between Vung Tau and Long Thanh near Bear Cat. We lost some team guys in a helicopter crash near Bay Loc and were unable to locate the crash sight in the jungle and we were prevented form insertion by a higher authority because of heavy enemy activity in the area. Today, I guess that they figured we were worth more alive than the risk taken to recovery our team mates and the air crew. Then, we were all pissed.
But God bless the Aussie’s and their SAS Dog Tracker Team. They were not controlled by our higher ups. They volunteered and deployed via fast rope and with the Black Labradors skills found the crash sight and bagged all our people and extracted them through tripple canopy jungle. No easy feet. Just think how long the recovery chopper had to hold a hover. Exposed to enemy fire as a sitting duck. But they did it with no casualties, then they walked to a secure pick up zone. These men never went on the MIA list and their families were spared the horrible years wondering where their loved ones were, dead or alive? Those men like most soldiers of all branches went the distance for those unknown to them, American Service men and women of Vietnam are forever in their debt. I wish Australia and America were closer together so our communities could socialize and do what I remember the Aussie’s doing best. “PARTY” God Bless and thanks.
Please remind people that Saddam had WMD’s just ask a Kurds! The world needs to remember that if we had gotten rid of Saddams predesesors, Hitler, Stalin, Herohito, Mao tse tung, Mussolini, ect. The world would be a much different place. Dictators would walk softly fearing that golden bullet or bomb. But the problem in Iraq and Afghanistan NOW is tribal, clan warfare, and loyalties centuries old. We all forgot that the same was true in Vietnam. Tha Montangyards were eager to fight with us because they hated the Vietnamese an ancient constant battle, when we left the vietnamese went on a program of genocide and tried to eradicate the tribal people. These conflicts only stop when one side doesn’t have the will or the people left to resist, then they become subjigated and are turned into slaves. Is that what we want in the middle East another dictatorship by race? Iran Is just waiting and hoping to see us leave. Let people with common sense think about the out come if we lose and leave. If you worry about the aussie people just think how We feel about the cowards in our Government the Democrats, just remember the Democrats under Kennedy and Jiohnson screwed up the war in Nam and 59,214 Americans died along with hundreds of our allies. And finally. We are doing it because we don’t need a Middle East like the former Soviet Bloc in Europe, When banded together they become a formidable foe. Providing they can get along. in thet scenerio we may be lucky ther will always fight amongst them selves for more of the pie and who’s going to be the top dog, Sunni, Shiite, I’ll tell you who will be top dog. The guy with the bomb and the guy with the most religeous clerics who arn’t bashfull about killing theri own kind and everyone else in the name of ALLAH!!!!!!! Glod Bless!! BJ59er

Dr JanApril 19th, 2007 at 3:20 pm

Hi. I am clinical psychologist specialising in the treatment of trauma-related syndromes.I have been reading your site with interest and compassion. I recognise the anger and pain, as I work everyday with veterans with PTSD and other trauma-related symptoms (PTSD is not the only response to trauma, some people respond with depression, a range of anxiety disorders, acohol and other substance abuse and obsessive-compulsive symptoms amongst others and often more than one diagnosis is present). Dave asks about toxic brain syndrome. I am both a therapist and a clinical neuropsychologist and so have a strong interest in the neurobiology of PTSD. While it is true that PTSD affects the brain biochemistry and in some cases the volume of certain brain structures, the evidence does not suggest that this relates to exposure to toxins so much as the the chronic effects of the biochemical imbalance that occurs with PTSD. Hence many veterans experience significant alterations in memory and concentration and in some higher order executive functions like planning and multi-tasking. They also tend to have a susceptibility to stimulus overload which contributes to the reduced tolerance for noise, crowds etc (there are learned responses in this as well). This is not to deny that many veterans were exposed to toxins but this needs to be considered on an individual basis. The majority are likely to be experiencing cognitive difficulties as a result of the biological effects of PTSD itself. Hope this helps.
Dr Jan

David MathesonApril 21st, 2007 at 12:34 pm

Hello Dr Jan ,
You may care to have a look at a web site that I administer for the ‘Children of Vietnam Veterans Health Study Inc’ or just click on my post name.
No body wants to know or think about Toxic Brain Syndrome, I.E my daughter is a clinical psychologist and says to me that the evidence for dioxins / TBS link is not there, my response is that nobody is looking for the link because it is not fashionable due to pressure from the major chemical companies.
And certainly, it would appear, the major ESO’s don’t want to know about it because at this point TBS is just a syndrome and not an identifiable disease thus there is no Repatriation Medical Authority Statement of Principle to make a claim with DVA.
Sadly, I believe, this is in part why the Repatriation Commission is doing all in its power to confound the ‘Children of Vietnam Veterans health Study’.
Kind regards,
David Matheson

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