The challenges veterans face upon returning to civilian life are often linked to experiences they had in combat. Among post-9/11 combat veterans, more than half (52%) say that during their military service, they had experiences that were emotionally traumatic or distressing. Noncombat veterans are less likely to report having these types of experiences, though they are not immune. Among post-9/11 veterans who did not serve in combat, 30% say they had traumatic or distressing experiences.

Many veterans face the challenge of dealing with the aftereffects of these experiences. Among all post-9/11 veterans who report having had traumatic experiences during their service, more than seven-in-ten (72%) say they’ve flashbacks, repeated distressing memories or recurring dreams of those incidents. The share is slightly higher (75%) among those who served in combat. The experience was similar for their predecessors. Among pre-9/11 combat veterans who had traumatic experiences in the military, 69% said they had suffered from flashbacks, distressing memories or recurring dreams.

Post-9/11 combat veterans who experienced traumatic events during their service are more than twice as likely as veterans who did not to say they have suffered from frequent incidents of irritability or anger (75% vs. 29%), strains in family relations (74% vs. 32%) and feelings of despondence and hopelessness (52% vs. 18%). Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.