Psychological Trauma for American Indians Who Served in Vietnam: The Matsunaga Vietnam Veterans Project
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Resource Type: Website or Webpage Article
Focus Population: BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color), People who have experienced Trauma, Veterans
Topics: Culturally Specific Strengths and Resilience, Mental Health Treatment, Post-discharge, Community Reentry, Recovery from Mental Health or Substance Use Disorders, Trauma-informed
Military personnel of many ethnic backgrounds served with distinction in the Vietnam War. The 1988 National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study (NVVRS)(1) demonstrated that Black and Hispanic Veterans who served in Vietnam experienced significantly greater readjustment problems and higher levels of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) than White Veterans.
To extend the study to other minority Veterans, the late Senator from Hawaii, Spark Matsunaga, initiated a major project to assess the readjustment experiences of American Indian, Japanese American, and Native Hawaiian Veterans of the Vietnam War. This resulted in Public Law 101-507, which directed the VA’s National Center for PTSD to conduct what became known as the Matsunaga Vietnam Veterans Project.(2)
The Matsunaga Project involved two parallel studies. The American Indian Vietnam Veterans Project surveyed a sample of Vietnam in-country Veterans residing on or near two large tribal reservations, one in the Southwest and the other in the Northern Plains. These populations had sufficient numbers of Vietnam military Veterans to draw scientifically and culturally sound conclusions about the war and readjustment experiences.