Combat, posttraumatic stress disorder and health of Australian Vietnam veteran conscripts and volunteers in the three decades after return

O’Toole, B., Pierse, K., Friedrich, S., Outram, S., Dadds, M., Catts, S. (2019). Combat, posttraumatic stress disorder and health of Australian Vietnam veteran conscripts and volunteers in the three decades after return. Journal of Military and Veterans’ Health, 27, 42-57.

Abstract

Background: No attention has been given to possible differential physical and mental health consequences of Vietnam service for National Servicemen (NSM) and Regular enlistees in the post-war years.

Purpose: To contrast NSM and Regular veterans’Army experiences including combat, and physical and mental health especially posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Materials and Methods: A random sample of veterans selected from Army records were interviewed face-to-face 20 and 35 years after repatriation, using standardized measures of physical and mental health. Three hierarchical logistic regression models adjusted for age, combat, age at deployment, durations of Army service pre-, during, post-Vietnam and rank.

Results: Regulars were from an earlier birth cohort than conscripts, had longer pre-deployment service, served longer at higher ranks in Vietnam, saw more combat, and had longer military service overall. NSM were better educated, served mainly in Infantry but had lower war zone exposure and lower combat but the same rate of PTSD. Across the spectrum of ICD-9/10 and DSM-III/IV diagnoses assessed, Regulars only had more heart and cardiovascular disease and more arthritis and rheumatism than NSM and few differences in psychiatric status.

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