The aging of heroes: Posttraumatic stress, resilience and growth among aging decorated veterans

Jacob Y. Stein, Rahel Bachem, Yael Lahav, Zahava Solomon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Despite increasing interest in the mental health of aging veterans, the pathogenic and salutogenic ramifications of war have not been investigated among aging veterans who received decorations of valor. Filling this gap, 73 Israeli decorated veterans (DVs) and 73 non-decorated veterans (n-DVs) (M age  = 68.5) were assessed for posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS), depression and anxiety 18 and 45 years after the war, and for posttraumatic growth (PTG) 45 years after the war. Analyses revealed deteriorating posttraumatic avoidance among n-DVs but not among DVs, and significantly lower rates of anxiety and depression and higher rates of PTG among the DVs. These findings suggest that factors related to being a DV may foster resilience to posttraumatic sequelae and are potentially conducive to PTG in later life. Though the study precludes making causal inferences, it serves as a springboard for future investigations into positive mechanisms underlying DVs’ relative resilience and growth in later life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)390-397
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Positive Psychology
Volume16
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Decorated veterans
  • PTG
  • aging
  • posttraumatic stress
  • resilience

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