Correlates of the sharp increase in Vietnam era veterans diagnosed as having posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) were examined.
Analyses compared receipt of a PTSD diagnosis and service-connected disability compensation in 2004–2006 and 2007–2009.
Among Vietnam era veterans, the percentage with a PTSD diagnosis in 2007–2009 was 22.2% higher than the percentage with PTSD in 2004–2006; the percentage without PTSD was 6.2% higher than in 2004–2006. Of those with PTSD in 2007–2009, 22.6% were previous VHA service users newly diagnosed (“conversions”); only 12.8% were entirely new to VHA (“recents”). Rates of disability compensation among recents and conversions were almost two and three times higher, respectively, than among those without PTSD.
The increase in Vietnam era veterans with PTSD is associated with more frequent “conversion” to PTSD among previous VHA users and receipt of disability compensation.