DANVILLE, Pa. – The new PBS documentary series, “The Vietnam War” by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick premiering Sunday will likely spark emotions among veterans of that war. A Geisinger researcher on PTSD, and a US Army Vietnam combat veteran himself, believes vets should watch with caution. “Some will have a recurrence of their experience,” said Dr. Joseph Boscarino, PhD, MPH, Senior Scientist for the Geisinger Center for Health Research who is conducting research related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “The experience doesn’t really go away.  You just learn to manage it.”

“The Vietnam War” is a ten-part, 18-hour documentary featuring testimony from many Americans who fought in the war. Dr. Boscarino thinks the Vietnam community is still stressed out after 50 years. “Many vets have suppressed their feelings,” he said, “and their feelings and bad memories may re-immerge with this series.”

Dr. Boscarino describes PTSD as “fear of death.” If not treated properly, Dr. Boscarino believes the disorder can be disabling. The Geisinger epidemiologist and social psychologist, along with his research team, are now investigating the genetics of PTSD and suicide among both veterans and nonveterans.

Dr. Boscarino says if Vietnam veterans plan to watch the PBS series, they should relax, avoid alcohol and try not to be alone. “Watch with other vets so you have a support group,” he said. “And if you are having issues such as anger, anxiety, or emotional arousal, you probably shouldn’t watch the series at all.” Above all, if veterans feel overwhelmed after they start watching the series, Dr. Boscarino reminds them to contact VA help lines and continue counseling services.

 

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Geisinger is an integrated health services organization widely recognized for its innovative use of the electronic health record and the development of innovative care delivery models such as ProvenHealth Navigator®, ProvenCare® and ProvenExperience®. As one of the nation’s largest health service organizations, Geisinger serves more than 3 million residents throughout 45 counties in central, south-central and northeast Pennsylvania, and also in southern New Jersey at AtlantiCare, a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recipient. In 2017, the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine and Geisinger Jersey Shore Hospital became the newest members of the Geisinger Family. The physician-led system is comprised of approximately 30,000 employees, including nearly 1,600 employed physicians, 13 hospital campuses, two research centers, and a 583,000-member health plan, all of which leverage an estimated $12.7 billion positive impact on the Pennsylvania and New Jersey economies. Geisinger has repeatedly garnered national accolades for integration, quality and service. In addition to fulfilling its patient care mission, Geisinger has a long-standing commitment to medical education, research and community service. For more information, visit www.geisinger.org, or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

The Vietnam War image from PBS
Dr. Joseph Boscarino
Dr. Joseph Boscarino, PhD, MPH, Senior Scientist for the Geisinger Center for Health Research

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