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Mil Med. 2013 Sep;178(9):970-3. doi: 10.7205/MILMED-D-13-00080.

Traumatic stressor exposure and post-traumatic symptoms in homeless veterans.

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  • 1National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and VA Palo Alto Health Care System, 795 Willow Road (334-PTSD), Menlo Park, CA 94025, USA.



To better understand potential risk factors for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and homelessness in veterans, we studied trauma exposure and responses in archival data on 115 homeless veterans.


Rates of exposure to military and a variety of civilian high magnitude stressor (HMS) and persistent post-traumatic distress (PPD) events and symptoms of post-traumatic stress were assessed. The relationships between frequency of different trauma types and symptoms of post-traumatic stress were examined.


Exposure to both HMS and PPD events were extremely high in this sample, with particularly high exposure to adult (82%) and childhood (62%) interpersonal violence HMS events and HMS events during military service (53%). Exposure to both military and civilian PPD events was associated with significantly higher levels of PTSD symptoms than exposure to no PPD events or only civilian PPD events, and almost all HMS event types were significantly correlated with both PTSD and dissociation symptoms.


Post-traumatic symptoms and military and civilian traumatic stressors of all types should be assessed in homeless veterans because they may be contributing to poor social and occupational functioning.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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