The April issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry includes a study comparing veterans with or without combat stress reactions over a twenty-year period. Veterans of the 1982 Lebanon War were the focus of a prospective study examining posttraumatic stress over the years. Of the 214 veterans studied, 131 experienced combat stress in the war while the remainder did not. Over the period studied, experiencing combat stress was found to be a strong indication of vulnerability to long-term psychopathology. Some time-related consequences of trauma were also found with PTSD rates dropping three year postwar and rising again 17 years later. The researchers concluded that the effects of combat stress can be enduring and complex with important implications for treatment.
The study abstract can be found here. A full-text version of the study is also available.