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Post-Deployment Stress Effects

This section addresses some of the ways in which the human stress and survival system responds to life in the war zone, and its effects on men and women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The roots of post-deployment stress effects are physical, powerful, and automatic.  The systems that react to stress and threat live in all of us.  These reactions live on a continuum, from mild to severe, with many resilience and vulnerability factors placing us at different points on that continuum.  We can recognize some of these factors, but others we may never know.

In Service Members’ reactions to the stress of deployment, none of their vulnerability factors has anything to do with how smart they are, how strong or brave they are, how committed they are to their mission, or how much they love their country.  Unfortunately, this is something that many Service Members and veterans do not know—or may know intellectually but still doubt on deeper levels.

We all have within us the strength to overcome many of the effects of traumatic stress, and to learn to manage the others.  And we have within our reach all the resources we need to learn how to do this.  The first step is to gain a basic understanding of these effects.


Next: The Biology of War-Zone Stress Effects

Also in this section:


Please Note: Some of the considerations in these pages are taken from written works, but more are based on conversations with or presentations by veterans or therapists who work with trauma survivors.  The reader is encouraged, not to take these ideas as absolute or as the only important considerations, but to respond to them with curiosity and a desire to listen, read, and learn much more.


The material on all of the Clinical Pages is taken directly from the draft version of Finding Balance After the War Zone:  Considerations in the Treatment of Post-Deployment Stress Effects, a manual under development for the Great Lakes Addiction Technology Transfer Center and Human Priorities.  This draft is copyright © 2008, Pamela Woll.  Reprint permission is universally granted, but attribution is requested.
Click here for References and Other Resources.
Click here to link to a PDF file of the current version of the clinician’s manual draft.
Click here to link to a PDF file of the accompanying booklet for veterans.

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