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In High-Tech Age, the Good Old Letter Still Holds Sway
Date:12/28/2011

tnam veterans, 10 percent of Gulf War (Desert Storm) veterans, 11 percent of veterans of Afghanistan fighting and 20 percent of Iraq war veterans.

For the study, the research team surveyed 193 married Army soldiers at Fort Campbell, Ky., who had returned in the past year from an overseas tour that included combat. They evaluated each soldier for PTSD symptoms, their exposure to combat and their marital satisfaction. They also quizzed each soldier on the frequency and types of communication they had received from home while they were deployed.

They found that happily married soldiers who received frequent communication that the team described as delayed -- letters, emails, care packages -- had fewer PTSD symptoms than those who'd received more instant communications, such as phone calls, video chats and instant messages.

But they also detected one scenario in which letters from home proved detrimental.

Soldiers in unhappy marriages who communicated often by delayed means tended to have more PTSD symptoms, the study found.

"We don't know if the communications are more negative, or if it reflects a soldier doing a lot of writing home and not getting anything in return," Loew said.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more on PTSD.

SOURCES: Benjamin Loew, graduate research assistant, department of psychology, University of Denver; Marion Frank, Ed.D., psychologist, Philadelphia; June 2011, Journal of Traumatic Stress


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