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Saturday, March 3, 2007

How PTSD Affects the Veteran's Children

Children of vets with PTSD have often been ignored in discussion of the issue. Some research has been conducted - mainly on children of Vietnam vets - that is probably applicable to children of combat vets of other wars. There are a number of mechanisms used by the children: over-identification with the PTSD affected parent; secondary traumatization; a rescuer role; depression and anxiety. These children are at greater risk for behavior, academic and interepersonal problems. Jennifer Price, Ph.D. has developed a fact sheet for the National Center for PTSD that explores some of these problems.


Anonymous said...

Legacy of War

Not enough reseach has been done in reference to a child growing up and only knowing a father with severe PTSD.

It was very frustrating for me to explain or try to explain about PTSD even to my own family.

So, in frustration, I wrote a book which I titled FACING THE WALL: A MISSION. It is my own story about living with a husband with PTSD.

It is a fact that if one member of the family suffers so do the rest. There is almost no information out about "How PTSD affects the Veteran's Children" thus no one believes it.

At times I just want to give up trying to explain my husband's PTSD and how it has affected our life. But, I know, in my heart I cannot do that. So, by writing my book,I hoped to reach one person at a time with the gift of understanding about PTSD ~ that is my mission.

Carol Schultz Vento said...

Thanks for your post. I would like to read your book about living with your husband with PTSD. And you are correct; there is very little written about the effects on the children.

Anonymous said...

It's all training.
Grand daddy fought and survived.
Daddy fought and survived.
Boot camp teaches you to fight, it doesn't teach you to survive.
Your daddy does.
The only cure for "soldier's heart"
is to stop fighting.
But, that ain't gonna happen? Is it.

carol said...

Nope, the cycle goes on. The fighting continues and the horror brought home from the war continues also. You only have to read the latest news about our newest generation of veterans - PTSD, suicides,etc. are all increasing dramatically.

Anonymous said...

Wars will never end, but with that said it is now time,for notjust promises but to actually have access for our veterans and their families to get all the help they need when their loved one return,, from war.

A family when there veteran returns, MUST have information given to them about especially ptsd to understand what might be happening to a individual when they return from their tour of duty. It was in 69 that my husband returned and it wasn't until 89 that his ptsd was confirmed. I feel that indeed there is more discussion now but still strongly feel there is much more to do~talk is cheap. "Til war and trauma end understanding must begin." A short quote I wrote in my book.

VetWife said...

Thank you for raising awareness about the affects of PTSD on the family members of our nation's Veterans! As the wife of an OIF Vet who is suffering from PTSD, I've been shocked by the lack of information and support for the "home fire heroes" that are now caring for and supporting our returning heroes. Families must have access to real-world help including counseling and information services in order to successfully heal and move on toward the lives of happiness and promise they so richly deserve! The conversation about short-term and long-term affects on our children is an extremely important one. Thanks, again, for this post!

carol said...

To Vet Wife,

Thanks for your comment. I am glad to share my story with the hopes it will help children of this generation of soldiers in understanding the trauma of their fathers (and their mothers) and how it impacts their own lives.

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely correct!!! There is not enough said or researched about the effects of "war", but especially the "Vietnam War" on the families, and particularly the children, of Vets. As the daughter of a combat vet, I know for a fact that that war deeply affected and changed the way I was raised. There is no doubt in my mind that I (and my sister) suffer from PTSD, as a result of our childhood.
While my dad deeply loved my sister and I (and never turned to drugs or alcohol), he was always an emotional rollercoaster. You never knew what may set him off. One day would be perfectly fine, and then the very next day he would explode at the smallest provocation. As a child, I learned to be fearful, cautious, and insecure about almost every move I made. This conditioning has followed both my sister and myself into adulthood. Even though my sister and I have become "successful" adults (a doctor and a lawyer), we still carry the scars from the trauma of Vietnam.

I am truly frustrated at the seemingly lack of concern for "us", the children of Vietnam Vets.

Carol Schultz Vento said...

Thanks for your comment. I have found that some research was conducted with children of Vietnam vets with PTSD, but certainly not very much. The majority of the studies were done in Australia and focused on the Vietnam vets from that country. The impact of combat on the soldier's children has never garnered much attention in America. If you do a search with google and google scholar, you will be able to pull up some of the articles. It's interesting that you and your sister are a doctor and lawyer. I have a Ph.D. and law degree. We're all outwardly successful, but living with the scars of war.

Morgan said...

I just found this blog and I'm so glad I did.

I'm the daughter of Vietnam Vet who is 100% disabled and suffers from severe PTSD. Dad brought the war home with him and my brother, mother and I have spent our lives fighting it with him.

Unfortunately, he is a severe alcohol / drug abuser who has spent most of my near 30 years in and out of prison and various short stay VA rehab programs that don't work. He was a combat veteran and came home a decorated soldier with 3 purple hearts and a medal of honour and yet the system has completely let him and us down. Sadly, my dad is currently in prison sitting out his latest incarceration for alcohol abuse. My mom and I have spent countless years lobbying for better veteran support to no avail so instead of getting the help he really needs they send him away to rot in prison for months at a time.

His PTSD completey destroyed our family and it's only in the last few years that I've started to seek out other children who have lived through the same hell.

Unfortunately, as is the consensus in this post, there isn't a lot of support for us and many of our stories have not been told. Because of that, I have also decided to write a book on growing up with my father, living the war that is obviously still so much a part of his life and ours.

Again, I'm so thankful for finding this blog and for this first time in my life coming across people who genuinely understand what life is like living with a veteran suffering from PTSD...

Carol said...

Thanks for your comment, Morgan. I am becoming increasing aware that there is an entire community of adult children who have lived with the result of their father's PTSD ranging from World War II, Korea and Vietnam. There is a group of Children of Vietnam Veterans in Australia who have organized and are having their first conference soon on the intergenerational transmission of PTSD. We need more connections like that so we realize that we are not alone in our experiences.

Morgan said...

Hi Carol. Do you by chance know where I can find information on the conference you mentioned? I actually moved to Australia 10 years ago to get away from the destruction back home and start a new life. I'd love to attend, along with my brother, if we can. Thanks!

Carol said...

Hi Morgan,

The information can be gotten from this site

The creator of the site is Ken O'Brien and he has been doing a study on the intergenerational impact of the Vietnam war.
I would contact him for info about the conference.

Shauna said...

My kids Daddy has PSTD very bad. He is right now in a VA hospital trying to get help. But how can I help them. They're are two very young little girl who have gone thur hell with their Daddy returning home from Iraq. Please help me help them. You can contact me at
Thank you!!

Anonymous said...

I just stumbled on this, I am doing research on PTSD and STSS in the children of Vets. I chose the topic because my son just returned from over seas and is suffering from PTSD. To say the PTSD could generational is an understatement. I know many family where PTSD has been passed down to the 4th generation. My family is one; first generation, my grandfather fought in WWI(for the Germans)he earns 3 Iron Crosses, his brother died of mustard gas poisoning, second generation,my mother, she and my grandparents barely surrive in Hitler's Germany,she thinks her father old fashioned, mean, and short tempered. She refuses to listen to anything about WWI or WWII. Third generation, me, I have both exposed on both fronts, from my mother who,thankfully shared the truth about the things she and my family experienced before, during, and (Thank God)after the fall of Herr Hilter. The other front, is my father, a quite shell of a man, haunted by is memories of that war in South East Asia. I was only 5 yrs old when my "Daddy" was emotionally taken away from me,my response to this was to read every book about "The War" that I could find so I could better understand why my dad was so distant. Now generation four, my son, the poor kid, he received not only what was passed down to me, but as an adult I felt it my duty to serve my country and to marry a soldier-boy and now has a soldier-boy son. So, my son has two parents who have been exposed and from time to time show minimal signs of PTDS. I have to wonder, did his being aware of the side-effects and possible outcome of PTSD before he deployed help or hinder him more. Just food for thought...this is a cycle that with education and understand can be broken.I wish you the best.
a warrior

Carol Schultz Vento said...

To Warrior: I wish your son and you the best. With your family history and your understanding of the dynamics through the generations, he will have the support that many others don't, since the impact on children of veterans through generations of wars has not been adequately recognized. Thanks so much for your comment.

Anonymous said...

I came across this website while searching for groups for children whose fathers had war-related pstd.

And then the post signed 'a warrior' inspires me. I know *exactly* of what you speak - there are 10s of 1000s of us out there. Hopefully someday someway there will a way for us all to connect. It took me many decades to admit to my own pysche damage as a result of what war did to my dad's psyche. Its very helpful to know I'm not the only one. It's been a hell of a journey. from sandi