Document Type

Capstone Project (Open Access)

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


Social, Behavioral & Global Studies

First Advisor

Yong Lao

Second Advisor

Armando Arias


The Social Progression of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Post-Vietnam and September 11th Attacks is an examination on the infrastructure of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’and of the Department of Defense’s lack of clarity and misinformation of the challenges and effects of mental illness within military ranks. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) made the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) after Vietnam. Since then, PTSD has been reevaluate numerous times, to properly define it. This research is a comparative analysis of the misconceptions of PTSD as experienced by Vietnam veterans and the first responders of the September 11th tragedy. My research charts the social progression and breakdown of the negative attitudes and concerns of PTSD pre-, during, and post-deployment statuses and how stigma acts as a deterrent to mental recovery. This research was conducted with as sample population of 324 randomly-selected participants, ranging in age, background, location, and race. The research data analysis indicates a dramatic shift in modern social acceptance of PTSD in comparison to the Vietnam era, indicating that the symptoms of the condition have not changed, but that societal conceptions and expectations surrounding it have. This research will specifically analyze American culture has created social constructs around the symptoms of PTSD, enabling the disorder to worsen for many people, and even supporting discrimination and stigma for this sub-community. This research suggests that PTSD has socially progressed, but remains consistent biologically as a mental condition.