Traumatic war stressors and psychiatric symptoms among World War II, Korean, and Vietnam War veterans

Psychol Aging. 1994 Mar;9(1):27-33. doi: 10.1037//0882-7974.9.1.27.


Three hypotheses regarding symptoms of war-related posttraumatic stress disorder and general psychiatric distress were tested: that symptoms are more severe the more severe the traumatic exposure, regardless of the war in question; that symptoms are less severe the older the veterans' age; and that symptom levels differ across sociocultural cohorts. A total of 5,138 war zone veterans who were seeking treatment from specialized Veterans Affairs outpatient clinical teams made up the sample: 320 World War II, 199 Korean War, and 4,619 Vietnam War veterans. All hypotheses were supported significantly. The similarity of relationships between traumatic exposure and symptoms across wars testifies to the generality of these experiences. Furthermore, the results suggest the operation of significant effects due both to aging and to cohort differences in sociocultural attitudes toward the stigma of mental illness and the popularity of the wars.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Combat Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Combat Disorders / psychology
  • Combat Disorders / therapy
  • Europe
  • Grief
  • Humans
  • Korea
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Environment
  • Suicide / psychology
  • Suicide Prevention
  • Veterans / psychology*
  • Vietnam
  • Violence
  • Warfare*