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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Government is denying there is a comparison between the war in Iraq and Vietnam. However, some soldiers are seeing a comparison when it comes to their mental health.

The VA clinic says about 5% of its Vietnam vets are having flashbacks and a relapse with their post-traumatic stress disorder.

It is an issue many vets don't want to talk about, but mental health experts say talking helps the vets and the rest of our society to understand.

Images Triggering Flashbacks
The Iraqi images that flash across the television are triggering flashbacks for some Vietnam veterans.

"Their wounds are made worse by similar violence that occurs there now with the ambushes," said Clinical Psychologist Michael Sheehan, Ph.D.

This fear makes sleeping difficult.

"Thirty-five years after the Vietnam War they work only at night not during the day because they were attacked at night so they want to stay up all night because that's the danger time," said Dr. Sheehan. "Of course it's not the same situation but it's the same dynamics for vets that are suffering."

Post-traumatic stress disorder
Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder include anxiety, fear, isolation and nightmares.

"A guy told me yesterday he saw a burning truck. That's all he needed. He flashed back to the burning truck in Vietnam. He smelled the smell. He got the feel of what that was like and it set off his symptoms all over again," says Dr. Sheehan.

Treatment and therapy help. It's help that a whole new generation of soldiers may need when they return from Iraq.

It's expected the Iraqi veterans will hopefully not suffer as much as Vietnam vets. The more we learn more about the disorder, the more we become more open to talking about it and treating it.

Also, the attitude is different now then it was during the Vietnam War. We are honoring those who return now and that did not happen with Vietnam.

Welcoming home the soldiers from Iraq improves their mental health. They may still suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder but we hope it won't be as severe as it is for Vietnam veterans.


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