Veterans seeking VA disability benefits for their service-connected post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often feel as though no one understands what they're going through. A look at PTSD statistics reveals that this mental health disorder is much more common among Veterans than you might expect.
PTSD Impact by Time of Service
The military has made significant improvements in efforts to support the mental health of soldiers, but a sizable number of Veterans still struggle with PTSD. Consider the following:
- Between 11% and 20% of Veterans who served in Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF) have PTSD in a given year.
- Approximately 12% of Gulf War (Desert Storm) Veterans have PTSD in a given year.
- Researchers estimate that 30% of Vietnam War Veterans have had PTSD in their lifetime.
In comparison, it is estimated that 7% to 8% of the general population will struggle with PTSD at some point in their lives.
How Gender Affects PTSD Rates
PTSD affects both and women, but its impact does vary by gender. Deployed men are 1.3 times more likely to suffer from PTSD than deployed women. Among deployed men, 16.3% meet the criteria for a PTSD diagnosis—compared to 12.5% of deployed women.
Military sexual trauma continues to play a significant role in the number of female Veterans diagnosed with PTSD. Approximately one in four female Veterans are victims of military sexual trauma, which can include sexual assault, rape, and sexual harassment. In comparison, only one in 100 male Veterans experience military sexual trauma.
How Race Affects PTSD Rates
People of color face unique challenges in their day-to-day lives and are more likely to have experienced other forms of trauma before enlisting in the military. As such, it should be no surprise that PTSD rates for deployed Veterans are highest among Veterans of color:
- 21.9% of deployed African American Veterans meet the criteria for a PTSD diagnosis
- 19.7% of deployed Hispanic Veterans meet the criteria for a PTSD diagnosis
- 16.2% of deployed non-Hispanic other race Veterans meet the criteria for a PTSD diagnosis
- 14.1% of deployed white non-Hispanic Veterans meet the criteria for a PTSD diagnosis
Effect of Service Branch on PTSD
All Veterans make great sacrifices for the good of their country. However, PTSD rates in Marines are significantly higher than the rates of those who served in other branches.
A study of deployed and non-deployed Veterans in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) found the following PTSD rates:
- Marine Corps. 20.6% for deployed Veterans/10.5% for non-deployed Veterans.
- Army. 18.6% for deployed Veterans/13.8% for non-deployed Veterans.
- Navy. 12.3% for deployed Veterans/10.1% for non-deployed Veterans.
- Air Force. 6.6% for deployed Veterans/6.2% for non-deployed Veterans.
PTSD Risk Factors and Co-Occurring Conditions
It is still unknown why some people develop PTSD and some do not, but there are some risk factors that are known to increase a Veteran's chances of being diagnosed. These include:
- History of substance abuse
- History of past trauma, such as being injured in a serious car accident or a natural disaster
- History of abuse, including physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
- Poor coping skills
- Lack of social support from friends and family
PTSD is linked to a number of co-occurring conditions that can also qualify for VA disability benefits. For example:
- Other mental illnesses. Approximately 80% of Veterans with PTSD also have a co-occurring mental illness—most often depression or anxiety.
- Alcohol abuse. Male Veterans with PTSD are 2.0 times more likely to suffer from alcoholism. Female Veterans with PTSD are 2.5 times more likely to suffer from alcoholism.
- Hypertension. Veterans with PTSD have a 24% to 46% greater risk of suffering from hypertension. PTSD is also linked to poor general cardiovascular health.
- Chronic pain. Approximately one in three Veterans with PTSD also struggle with chronic pain.
Getting Help With Your Claim
The process of being approved for disability benefits can be frustrating, but the office of Sean Kendall, Attorney-at-Law, is here to help. We work with Veterans suffering from PTSD who are having trouble accessing their VA benefits to ensure that all of their primary and secondary conditions are fully compensated. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.