It’s difficult to know what the exact numbers are as so many vets do not report PTSD due to the stigma associated with it or simply because they believe that nothing is wrong with them. Government and independent studies vary but the one thing that they all agree on is that the numbers are rising at an alarming rate. Here are some numbers from recent government, military and independent studies.

  • More than 5 million Americans are affected and suffer from PTSD annually.
  • 3 out of 10 people, civilian and military, that spend time in a war zone will develop PTSD.
  • More than 300,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have been diagnosed with PTSD.
  • In 2011 the number of diagnosed cases of PTSD in the military increased by 50%.
  • Roughly 1,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are diagnosed with PTSD each week.
  • 50% of those with PTSD do not seek treatment.
  • Of those that do seek treatment only half of those get minimally adequate treatment.
  • Many people that suffer from PTSD will self-medicate by abusing alcohol. More than half of those will become alcohol dependent.
  • Individuals suffering with PTSD abuse prescription and illegal drugs nearly 3 times the rate of drug abuse in the general population.
  • Soldiers in the Army and Marines have been found to be 4 times more likely to develop PTDS than other branches in the military.
  • PTSD distribution between services for Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn: Army 67%, Marines 13%, Navy 11% and Air Force 9%. -Congressional Research Service, September 2010
  • Experts believe that PTSD occurrences breakdown as follows: 11-20% of Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, in about 10% of veterans of the Gulf war and in about 30% of veterans of the Vietnam War.
  • Enlisted soldiers are twice more likely to develop PTSD than officers.
  • 8%-20% of military personnel deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
  • It is believed the 19% of all veterans have TBI.
  • 7% of veterans have both PTSD and TBI.
  • PTSD and TBI can increase suicidal thoughts and behavior.
  • Military suicides are at their highest rate in 10 years.
  • In 2012 more military deaths were caused by suicide than by combat.
  • 20% of national suicides are completed by veterans.



Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that can occur after a person has experienced or witnessed an extreme emotional trauma that involved the threat of injury to self or others and/or death. Events such as military combat, terrorist attacks, serious accidents, natural disasters or physical or sexual assault can all trigger PTSD. Most people are able to process and deal with the trauma over a short period of time. However, those that are not able to deal with it and continue to experience the trauma after a month can develop PTSD.

People who have PTSD can exhibit all or any combination of the following symptoms. Duration must be one month or longer to be diagnosed as PTSD:

  • The traumatic event is relived in one or more of the following ways:
    • Recurring and intrusive recollections of the event, including thoughts, images and/or perceptions.
    • Persistent nightmares of the trauma.
    • Acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring such as flashbacks and illusions that occur while awake or under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Avoidance of reminders associated with the trauma:
    • Avoiding conversations, thoughts or feelings that remind the person of the trauma.
    • Making all efforts to avoid people, places and activities that recall the trauma.
    • Being unable to remember important aspects of the trauma.
    • Loss of interest in activities that used to bring joy.
    • Feeling removed from those around you.
    • Keeping people who were once close to you at a distance.
    • Feeling that the future is not yours.
  • Negative changes in mood and behavior associated with the event or after:
    • Distorted thoughts of the event that lead you to blame yourself or others for the outcome of the trauma.
    • Waning interest in social activities and withdrawing from participating in significant events.
    • Detaching from self and people close to you.
    • Intrusive negative thoughts and feelings.
    • Unable to feel positive emotions.
    • Exaggerated expectations of yourself and those around you.
    • Decrease in sexual desires.
    • Survivor guilt.
  • Persistent symptoms of heightened awareness and arousal:
    • Unable to fall asleep and/or stay asleep.
    • High irritability and frequent outburst of anger.
    • Hyper vigilance.
    • Trouble concentrating.
    • Over stated startle response.
  • Symptoms significantly disrupt or impair professional, social and home life.
  • The symptoms are not caused by another medical condition or the physiological effects of drugs or alcohol.