The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


November 9, 2010

For some vets, battles don't end

DANVILLE — Some veterans will spend Thursday marching in Veterans Day parades and taking part in flag ceremonies while others might say a prayer and give thanks for those who made it home safely.

But in many unfortunate cases, soldiers come home with deep and lasting wounds to their mental health, according to Joseph Boscarino, an epidemiologist, social psychologist and Vietnam veteran at Geisinger Medical Center.

Often, conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder leave veterans just as disabled as those who suffered physical injury.

This was the case with Boscarino's identical twin brother, who also was a Vietnam veteran and was left disabled following the Battle for Hue during the 1968 Tet Offensive.

In his research, Boscarino has found that Vietnam veterans who have gone decades with no treatment suffer the most from PTSD — leaving many permanently disabled.

To provide a comparison, Boscarino said, "Going to combat week after week would be like experiencing Columbine every day and receiving no treatment."

He estimated that as many as 15 percent of returning war veterans, and likely more, will be diagnosed with PTSD. Those suffering with PTSD experience symptoms such as anxiety, nightmares and flashbacks for more than a month.

Symptoms could begin immediately after the traumatic event. Others may not show signs until decades later.

When this happens, there is typically an event that triggers the PTSD.

"They start re-experiencing events in their mind," said Boscarino. "They could develop avoidance or amnesia of the event, or they could begin to experience nightmares."

A major triggering event for many veterans was the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"This event was so traumatic," he said.

A number of individuals who were in combat experienced a delayed reaction," he said.

Recovery from PTSD is a gradual process, but there are many things those with the condition can do to cope with residual symptoms and reduce anxiety and fear.

Common treatments for PTSD include trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy, which involves carefully and gradually exposing thoughts, feelings and situations that are the reminders of the trauma, as well as family therapy and medication to relieve secondary symptoms such as depression and anxiety.

Boscarino is leading a team of molecular biologists and genetic investigators to uncover a genetic link between PTSD and subsequent psychopathology. Such a discovery would make it possible to predict an individual's likelihood of developing PTSD following exposure to a traumatic event such as battle, providing a target for new treatments and a better way of screening military inductees.

Other factors that could play in to whether a person develops PTSD are personality traits and left- or mixed-handedness.

Boscarino believes his research will provide a better understanding to why nearly one in five people suffers from PTSD following exposure to a major traumatic event.

— E-mail comments to

Text Only
  • wrosenella Valley experts differ on ideas for job creation

    SUNBURY — When President Barack Obama gives his jobs speech Thursday night before Congress and a nation facing a 9.1 unemployment rate, he should act to lower the minimum wage and taxes, target government investments wisely, spend on long-lasting projects, or cut spending, reduce regulations and trim the size of Washington, Valley experts suggested.

    September 4, 2011 1 Photo

  • diabetes31.jpg Carbs under control

    Parents with a child who has Type 1 diabetes sometimes find it difficult to let go of the important responsibility to constantly check insulin levels. Just ask Doreen Giordani, of Sunbury.

    January 11, 2011 1 Photo

  • After the pounds come off

    Bariatric surgery offers those who are 100-plus-pounds overweight a viable option for reclaiming their lives, a physician at Geisinger Medical Center noted.

    January 11, 2011

  • Accreditation awarded to hospital

    Sunbury Community Hospital has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for accreditation by demonstrating compliance with The Joint Commission’s national standards for health care and safety in hospitals.

    January 11, 2011

  • djanet3a.jpg 16 years old and still growing

    The more things change the more they stay the same. That's what Dr. Michael Ryan, director of pediatrics at Janet Weis Children's Hospital, in Danville, said, as he discussed the 16 year anniversary of the facility.

    January 4, 2011 2 Photos

  • tech30 Americans turn to technology to control impulses

    NEW YORK — Dan Nainan can't trust himself to work at his computer without clicking on distractions, so he uses an Internet-blocking program to shut down his Web access twice a day. "I'm sorry, but try as I might, I could never, ever do this on my own," said the New York City comedian who's struggling to finish a book. "I wish I could, but I just don't have the discipline."

    December 29, 2010 1 Photo

  • home29 Some babyproofing basics for the new year

    Babies and toddlers are curious creatures. Something captures their attention — a stuffed animal, a shiny object or a noisy rattle — and they're going after it. Just make sure they aren't chasing a teddy bear on top of a dresser, the blade of a knife or a pill bottle.

    December 29, 2010 1 Photo

  • santa22 Texts, Web really do allow Santa to be everywhere

    PHILADELPHIA — He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake, and he knows how many followers you have on Twitter.

    December 22, 2010 1 Photo

  • santa20 In tough economy, Santas are suffering

    ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Craig McTavish — a.k.a. Santa — has the beard. He has the belly. He even has a few tricks up his sleeve, like pulling up to parties on his Harley-Davidson in full Kris Kringle garb. But there's one thing he doesn't have: work.

    December 20, 2010 1 Photo

  • helmets14.jpg Soften the impact

    The cold weather and snow are here, which means winter recreation enthusiasts should be armed with ways to protect themselves from traumatic head and brain injuries that are typical for the season.

    December 14, 2010 1 Photo

The Daily Marquee
Lifestyles Video
  • August 17, 2010


Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide