Reaction of Vietnam Veterans to the Persian Gulf War

By Kobrick, Felice R. | Health and Social Work, August 1993 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Reaction of Vietnam Veterans to the Persian Gulf War


Kobrick, Felice R., Health and Social Work


The Persian Gulf War had an emotional and psychological effect worldwide. For Vietnam veterans, the Persian Gulf War was a reminder of a time in their lives when they, voluntarily or involuntarily, went to war for their country. For some Vietnam veterans who suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the conflict in the Middle East intensified their flashbacks to traumatic incidents in Vietnam and reactivated feelings of frustration, anger, and depression. Even for Vietnam veterans who are not suffering from PTSD, the conflict may have reawakened memories--some positive, some negative, and most long-repressed--from the Vietnam era.

In 1980, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) officially recognized what is now referred to as PTSD (APA, 1980, 1987) "after much research by various veterans' task forces and recommendations by those involved in treatment of civilian post-trauma clients" (Goodwin, 1982, p. 7). The idea that individuals such as combat veterans could suffer from intrusive memories and flashbacks was not new; these reactions have been observed, although not fully understood or treated, for centuries.

Because the mental health profession is only in its infancy in treating PTSD, the idea that subsequent wars can have a psychologically disturbing effect on any veteran has not been examined. For example, no literature exists on whether World War II had a psychologically disturbing effect on World War I veterans. No publications discuss the reactions of World War II veterans to the Korean or Vietnam wars. Whether this paucity of literature is a precursor or an outgrowth of the mental health profession's delay in recognizing PTSD as a legitimate disorder, the omission is unfortunate.

In examining the reaction of Vietnam veterans to the Persian Gulf War, it is important to note that there was no typical reaction to the conflict. Veterans, like the rest of the population, had diverse opinions and reactions to the war, running from patriotism to protest, from horror to pride, and from jealousy to paternalism (Hall, 1991). Regardless of a veteran's reaction, by becoming sensitized to the fact that veterans' war experiences can be reawakened on exposure to subsequent wars, social workers can help veteran clients to examine, gain insight, and make peace with their wartime experiences.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Evolution of Combat-Related PTSD

Ancient Greek and Roman literature may have provided the first writings of soldiers' traumatic reactions on return from the battlefield (Kelly, 1985). In World War I, the idea that high pressure from exploding shells caused not only physiological damage but also mental infirmity led to the concept of "shell shock." About 6 percent of soldiers during World War I were evacuated from the battlefield with symptoms of shell shock (Goodwin, 1982). The emphasis on predisposing personality factors changed the concept of shell shock to the concept of "war neurosis" (Kardiner, 1941).

With the onset of World War II, there was a greater awareness of the psychological consequences of combat on soldiers. Investigations of soldiers who suffered from battlefield-related trauma led to the labels of "traumatic war neurosis" (Kardiner & Spiegel, 1947), "combat exhaustion" (Swank, 1949), and "operational fatigue" (Grinker & Spiegel, 1945). These studies furthered the idea that the combat situation, and not predisposing personality factors, played a more critical role in the number of psychiatric casualties observed. Because of this awareness, psychiatric evacuations from the battlefield totaled 23 percent in World War II, an increase of almost 300 percent from World War I (Goodwin, 1982).

The on-site treatment of psychiatric casualties began in the Korean War. Soldiers who were treated were expected to return to duty (Glass, 1954). Because of this procedure, psychiatric evacuations were only 6 percent during the war (Goodwin, 1982).

Korean War veterans have rarely been studied on their own, and therefore literature is scarce.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Reaction of Vietnam Veterans to the Persian Gulf War
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.