Have you every looked at pieces of precious glass or china?  It’s whole.  Perfect, unbroken,
and untouched.  Trembling you reach out to touch the delicate artifact.  It’s beautiful,
smooth, and delicate.

Each and every one of our souls is like that glass.  In the eyes of a newborn child you see
hope, innocence, love, and faith.  We all start out wide-eyed and open, wanting to learn, to
know, to grow.

Secondary Traumatic Stress (STS) shatters that glass.  It’s not “post” because it ISN’T
OVER.  It still happens every single day.  “Post” implies the stressor has left.  But YOUR
stressor is still there.  YOUR trauma hasn’t ended.  It probably isn’t going to either.

Unfortunately, there are NO studies on STS or
Secondary PTSD in America so our
research must come from international studies.  This study will focus on the wives of
veterans of the 1991-1995 Croatian war and was published in 2007 by Tanja Frančišković,
Aleksandra Stevanović, Ilijana Jelušić, Branka Roganović, Miro Klarić, and Jasna Grković.  
And please don’t ask me to pronounce their names    .

These wives had only ONE thing in common.  They KNEW about their partner’s trauma and
his PTSD.  56 women were studied.

3 of them had no symptoms of STS
21 had up to 5 symptoms
19 had 6-10 symptoms
13 had 11 or more symptoms

70% reported emotional disturbance
63% reported avoidance of thoughts and feelings
56% reported periods of rage and annoyance

22 met the standard for PTSD themselves.

Two-thirds (about 37) of these women felt they needed professional psychological help.


Previously it was found in an Israeli wives of veterans study that 30% had STS.  This study
found 39% met the criteria.

This can affect ALL caregivers: Mothers, Fathers, Wives, Husbands, Friends, Siblings, and
worst of all, Children.

Let’s crunch some numbers.  According to an article in the LA Times, approximately 20% of
all returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan have PTSD or depression (another study
has released these have nearly identical impacts on the family), which is approximately
300,000 vets.  Less than half are seeking treatment.

Now, taking that 300,000 number and the 39% revealed in this study means we have at
LEAST 117,000 STS caregivers.  That’s not accounting for families where more than one
person is taking care of the vet.  That’s not accounting for the PTSD vets who haven’t
been tracked.  Many expect the number to rise from 20% to 50% or higher by the end of
the war.  Some experts expect it to climb as high as 70%.

117,000 STS caregivers.  There’s NO ONE to help them.  Our country doesn’t even
recognize STS and the need for assistance for these family members.

What are we going to do about it?

Here at Family of a Vet, we are dedicated to finding resources for STS families.  We
understand where you are.  We’ve been there.  And we want to help.  Don’t fight your way
through the dark anymore.  Talk to us.

Link to LA Times article “20% of Iraq, Afghanistan veterans have depression or PTSD,
study finds”

Link to “Secondary Traumatization of Wives of War Veterans with Posttraumatic Stress

This article was written by our own Heather Hummert, the wife of an OIF Veteran & Purple
Heart Recipient.  If you would like to contact Heather directly, you can e-mail her at
Heather -at- FamilyOfAVet.com or

If you would like to help us build this site and reach out to other Veterans, their spouses,
and children, please e-mail us at Info -at- FamilyOfAVet.com or

A Study on Secondary Traumatic Stress (aka Secondary PTSD)

Broken Pieces

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