Examining aggression in male vietnam veterans who receive VA services: The role of traumatic events and combat exposure

Authors

  • Jenna M. Lenhardt,

    1. National Center for PTSD, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
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  • Jamie M. Howard,

    1. National Center for PTSD, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    2. Department of Psychology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
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  • Casey T. Taft,

    Corresponding author
    1. National Center for PTSD, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    2. Department of Psychology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    • National Center for PTSD, Behavioral Sciences Division, VA Boston Healthcare System, 150 South Huntington Avenue (116B-4), Boston, MA 02130
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  • Danny G. Kaloupek,

    1. National Center for PTSD, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    2. Department of Psychology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
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  • Terence M. Keane

    1. National Center for PTSD, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
    2. Department of Psychology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
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Abstract

We examined the relationship between trauma exposure and the perpetration of aggression by male Vietnam veterans (N = 1,328) using archival data from a multisite study conducted by the Cooperative Studies Program of the Department of Veteran Affairs (CSP-334) in the early 1990s. Both traumatic events in civilian life and combat exposure were examined as correlates of aggression. Results indicated that pre- and postmilitary traumatic events and combat exposure were all related to perpetration of aggression at the bivariate level; r = .07, r = .20, and r = .13, respectively. When these variables were examined simultaneously, only combat exposure (β = .14, p < .001) and postmilitary traumatic events (β = .20, p < .001) were associated with aggression. No interaction effects were found for civilian traumatic events and combat in relation to aggression. Results highlight the importance of attending to the psychological aftermath of exposure to traumatic events experienced during and following deployment before aggressive patterns develop.

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