That war and psychological trauma go together has always been known but not always well understood or popularly accepted. More accepted, at least in US history, has been the notion that military veterans should be thanked for their service on a long-term basis, with a system of benefits that has historically included some combination of compensation, pensions, and health care. How, though, has the veterans’ benefits system dealt with veterans who suffer from war-induced psychological trauma—some version of what is today called post-traumatic stress disorder—over time? This report provides a brief overview of the history of how the US military and veterans’ benefits programs have approached war-induced psychological trauma, with the aim of raising questions about both the causes and the consequences of these changes.
Image credit: Master Sgt. Andy Dunaway, US Air Force