It is projected that by 2020 there will be 8.7 million veterans over the age of 65 years, more than half (64%) of whom served during the Vietnam War. The effects of military service on mental health and well-being may be more pronounced later in life among those who served in Vietnam than prior cohorts of veterans. Many veterans confront and rework their wartime memories later in life in an attempt to find meaning and coherence, engaging in a process referred to as Later-Adulthood Trauma Reengagement (LATR). LATR often occurs in the context of other stressors that are a normative part of aging, such as role transitions (e.g., retirement), declines in physical health, and the death of close others (e.g., spouses), perhaps because these events trigger reminiscence. Importantly, LATR may result in either positive (e.g., acceptance) or negative (e.g., distress) psychological outcomes. It has been suggested that the presence of social/environmental resources, including socioemotional support, may aid veterans in successfully navigating LATR. We, therefore, review relevant areas of research to delineate the role that various layers of social context may play in -helping - or hindering - aging Vietnam veterans as they navigate LATR in the context of normative late-life stressors. We conclude by offering fruitful directions for future research and applied implications for intervention efforts.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geriatrics and Gerontology