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Health Services Research & Development

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Spotlight: Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

June 2012

For Veterans In Crisis

If you are a Veteran in crisis, and need help immediately, call 911, or go to your nearest emergency room. You can also call:

  • the Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
  • the 24/7 Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 and press "1"

Click on this link to use the Veterans Confidential Live Chat to reach a counselor, or send a text to: 838255.


  • The May issue of VA HSR&D FORUM features articles and commentary on PTSD and suicide prevention.
  • Visit VA's National Center for PTSD website to find out more about the signs, symptoms, and treatments for PTSD.
  • Learn more about where to get help.
  • Search the PTSD research citations and publications database
  • Read additional health services research studies into PTSD.
  • Watch this video about PTSD and mantram repetition.
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is one of the most common mental health concerns among Veterans. Based on a 2008 survey by the RAND Corporation, it's estimated that about 300,000 Veterans who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan are suffering from PTSD. In order to increase the support for and understanding of PTSD, Congress has designated June 27 as National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Day.

    About PTSD: Causes, Signs, and Symptoms

    Post-traumatic stress disorder can occur after an individual witnesses or experiences a traumatic event and it can happen to anyone. Events that trigger PTSD can include: combat exposure; physical or sexual assault (either as a child or an adult); accidents and natural disasters; or intentional destruction, such as terrorism. While it's common to experience some stress-related reactions after a traumatic event, reactions and behaviors that do not go away (or begin to disrupt daily life) may be signs of PTSD.

    According to the Veterans Administration National Center for PTSD, there are four main symptoms of PTSD:

    • Reliving the trauma. Memories of the initial trauma can spontaneously recur (also called a flashback.) Flashbacks are sometimes precipitated by a "trigger—a sound or sight that may have similar qualities to the original traumatic event.
    • Avoiding similar situations. Individuals with PTSD often try to avoid people, situations, or circumstances that resemble those associated with the initial traumatic event.
    • Feeling numb or emotionless . PTSD sufferers may have difficulty expressing or feeling emotions, which, in part, is a mechanism to avoid reliving the memory of the primary trauma.
    • Feeling keyed up (also called hyperarousal). Feeling "jittery", constantly on-edge, or being easily angered is known as hyperarousal.

    PTSD Research in VA

    Because PTSD disproportionately impacts Veterans, research to address the condition is critical. Within VA's Health Services Research & Development Service (HSR&D), investigators conduct studies that look at the quality, efficacy, and delivery of services to Veterans with PTSD. Studies range from novel concepts such as web-based behavioral interventions, to furthering the understanding of gender on susceptibility to PTSD. Some recent HSR&D research studies include:

    Questions about the HSR&D website? Email the Web Team

    Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.