Possible Psychological Complexities Of A Military Family

Post-traumatic stress isn’t always limited to the returning veteran. A new study finds civilian spouses often suffer symptoms equal to stress felt by soldiers returning from combat.


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A new revelation that post-traumatic stress symptoms, (PTSS), affects spouses and other family members of combat veterans returning from war. As more and more veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan come home, this can have a profound impact on Houston area military families.

Dr. Jacquelyn Campbell of Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing is the study’s co-author. She says they found that under some circumstance, family members were diagnosed with full-blown PTSS.

“When they did develop these symptoms, it was primarily also because they had had some trauma in their own lives.”

Trauma like being the victim of child abuse, sexual assault or domestic violence. Dr. Campbell says what seemed to happen was when their spouse returned with symptoms of post-traumatic stress, it re-triggered their traumas, even though they might have been resolved before.

“But what’s very important for us to realize, is that in considering the trauma symptoms of our returning veterans, we need to consider the family. We need to consider both parts of that couple.”

Some of the spouses who also saw action, came home suffering from PTSS.

“And that’s a new face of our Armed Services, that often times you have couples that both have been in combat situations, and both both may have PTSD symptoms, as a result of that, and it feeds off of each other.”

Dr Campbell says one common symptom shared by couples with PTSS is the inability to sleep.

“If both of you are having trouble sleeping related to post-traumatic stress, and both of you are tired the next morning, it makes it harder for a couple to get along — for them to do what needs to be done. This makes the marriage more difficult.”

Mary Moreno started Military Moms and Wives of Brazoria County ten years ago after her son, a Marine veteran, came home with PTSD. She says the military needs to do more to help returning soldiers.

“I don’t think there’s ever going to be enough done for them. I think it has to start in the war zone, the encouragement of their COs you know, the higher levels. Letting them know that these are the warning signs. If you need help, come to me. Because if we don’t address it, we’re losing our American heroes here stateside by suicide, or by a criminal thing that they do.”

You can find more information on the study at

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