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Yale Study Shows Combat Vets Most Prone to Domestic Abuse

By , April 7, 2010 3:01 pm

An article by Randy Dotinga, looks into the findings of a Yale Study on the effects of war on men, the homefront, and society. He writes, “Two decades after the Vietnam War, a new study concludes that male veterans who spent time in combat were more than four times as likely as other men to engage in domestic violence.”

The Yale University researchers also found that combat vets were at much higher risk for divorce, depression, and unemployment. Co-author Holly G. Prigerson, an associate professor of psychiatry at Yale notes that the findings are striking.  “Being exposed to and witnessing these horrible things puts you at risk of a lot of bad outcomes for a long time.”

The combat vets were 4.4 times more likely to have abused a spouse or partner than other men, and were 6.4 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. They were also two to three times more likely to suffer from depression, substance abuse, unemployment, divorce and separation.

Using a mathematical formula, the researchers dtermined that if there were no veterans in this country with combat experience, the number of domestic violence cases  would drop by an estimated 21 percent.

“This really dramaically illustrates the price that we pay for sending people to war. It quantifies it,” Prigerson says. “People know that war is bad, but do they know that 21 percent of spousal abuse could have been averted if men didn’t go to war?”

One common assumption has been that post-traumatic stress disorder, not combat itself, is the prime cause of adjustment problems after wartime service. But the Yale study, which appeared in the American Journal of Public Health, shows that veterans still had problems, particularly with substance absue and unemployment, even if they weren’t diagnosed with the disorder. The research reinforces what experts already know about the challenges facing combat vets, says Dr. Frank Schoenfeld, director of the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Clinic at the VA Medical Center in San Francisco.

Schoenfeld says “Whether or not they develop pst-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, combat vets frequently suffer from a lower tolerance for frustration, explosive outbursts and never-ending alertness. There was some kind of intuitive understanding that le in combat tend to be irritable in general, and have fewer restraints on their anger. This helps verify that.”

Both Prigerson and Schoenfeld say “It’s important to understand how combat affects a person’s life in later years.”

“If you send people off to war, it’s going to have repercussions” asserts Schoenfeld. “Even if people don’t come out diagnosed with a psychological disorder, they may come back with changes that are detrimental to society.”

Charlene’s Note:

I found this disturbing article on “The National Council on Child Abuse & Family Violence” website.

Go to for more info.

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