Based on studies of Vietnam veterans, about 80 percent of American soldiers returning from combat never experience post-traumatic stress disorder. Yet the approximately 20 percent of veterans who eventually succumb to PTSD represents a significant concern.
For the first time, the U.S. Department of Defense has disbursed $7.1 million to fund the selection of 3,500 service members who have been deployed to a combat zone and experienced at least six firefights to participate in a PTSD study. Dr. Joseph Calabrese, director of the mood disorder program and co-director of the bipolar research center at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, will co-direct the research project with Dr. Marijo Tamburrino, chairman of the department of psychiatry at the University of Toledo.
In addition to the number of combat experiences, researchers suspect some key triggers for PTSD in combat veter-ans include lack of a stable home environment and support by family and friends, societal rejection, and lower levels of education, according to
The 13-year, multicenter study will evaluate the risk and resiliency factors of post-traumatic stress and other ad-justments following combat in a cross-section of veterans from three groups of the Ohio National Guard and Reserve. During the 10-year follow-up period, researchers will conduct two- to three-hour in-person interviews with 500 sol-diers, while the remainder will receive 75-minute telephone interviews.
Participating members will have access to a counseling program that supports the behavioral health of soldiers and their families.
“The soldiers I have met have been remarkable people who are very committed and brave,” says Calabrese. “So, I approach this study as an obligation rather than a scientific endeavor.”