Study: Vietnam Vets Who Killed People Suffer More Later in Life

A recent survey of 1,200 Vietnam veterans headed up by researchers from U.C. San Francisco and the San Francisco VA Medical Center reports that soldiers who killed people during that combat have, on average, lived far more troubled lives in the ensuing decades than soldiers who did not.

Even when compared with fellow combat veterans — not pencil pushers — soldiers who reported taking others' lives had higher incidences of post-traumatic stress disorder, violent behavior, troubles with daily functioning, and myriad other psychological problems. And these problems have persisted for years.

“Killing, in a variety of ways, turns out to have a wide range of mental health and functioning impacts,” said the study's lead author Dr. Shira Maugen, a staff psychologist at the San Francisco VA. The study was published in a recent edition of The Journal of Traumatic Stress. “We knew [killing] would be important, but we were surprised at the extent to which the effects of being in combat faded in comparison.”

Here's the study's methodology:

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