Secondary traumatic stress (STS) has been studied in therapists, spouses, and mainly in children of traumatised individuals. To date, the relationship between children’s posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and their parents’ mental health outcomes have been understudied, and specifically, long term STS symptoms of parents of war veterans were not investigated. The current study examined PTSD symptoms among veterans of the 2014 Israel-Gaza war and STS among their parents, five years after the war. The control group consisted of veterans from combat military units who were on active duty at the time of the war but did not actively participate in the war (stand-by units)–providing a natural experiment condition. We found that PTSD symptoms were almost twice as high in the directly active war veterans (DAV, N = 32) group compared to the indirectly active war veterans (IAV, N = 26) group. Results showed that mothers had higher STS symptoms in general, and DAV PTSD symptoms correlated with their fathers STS symptoms. The current study provides novel evidence for: (a) subclinical PTSD symptoms in war veterans 5 years after the war, and (b) transmission of trauma from war veterans to their parents. The overall negative effect of sending a child to war on the parents are also discussed.
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- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- secondary traumatic stress (STS)
- transmission of trauma
- war veterans