Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, or learning that a traumatic event has happened to a loved one.
In reality, 20 years separated the armistice of the Korean War (1953) from the last American troops leaving South Vietnam (1973). The answer to this question lies not in the nature of the conflicts, but rather what happened to the veterans *after* the conflicts.
During and after the end of the Korean War, many veterans returned home to a United States that, like what happened with after the Vietnam War, had mixed feelings about their participation. Unlike the Second World War, the Korean War did not produce an indisputable victory. In fact, it wasn’t even classified as a war at first, only considered a “police action”. Furthermore, unlike the Second World War, life continued in the United States. There was no home front, no rationing or involvement of a large part of the civilian population to drive the Korean War to “victory at home”. The Korean War was forgotten and its veteran returned home to a world that they had troubles readjusting to, many feeling disillusioned with their service since they weren’t received home in the same grand way as Second World War veterans were (although 20 % of Korean War veterans were veterans from that war as well) and the fact that the war hadn’t finished with a conventional victory. Korean War veterans were even rejected from veterans organizations such as the American Legion or the The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States due to the status of the Korean War as a “police action” (and therefore not a real war in the eyes of Second World War veterans).
The first major academic study over the men and women who served in the Korean War, Melinda L. Pash’s *In the Shadow of the Greatest Generation: The Americans Who Fought the Korean War* (NYU Press, 2014), argues that many Korean War veterans internalized the issues stemming from PTSD (which they were unaware that they had) due to their upbringing during the Great Depression and the Second World War, two events that Pash argues are vital in understanding the attitudes of Korean War veterans towards their post-war life. The Korean War veteran suffered in silence. The difference between Vietnam War veterans and Korean War veterans in this regard is the simple fact that the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs never reacted to the problems of the Korean War veterans. They did, however, react to the problem of PTSD of Vietnam War veterans and the high visibility of PTSD treatment programs and counseling during this time (in particularly during the 1980s) made Korean War veterans attend them which in turn brought them to the attention of professional medical staff and the government. As Pash writes:
> Suddenly, doctors and researchers as well as the government took notice and began to fund and conduct studies of Korean War veterans and the incidence of PTSD. These efforts demonstrated that contrary to previous assumptions, not only did Korean War veterans exhibit symptoms of PTSD right after the war but older veterans were still suffering from the effects.
Ultimately, it had been the problems of the Vietnam War veterans that had made it possible for Korean War veterans to get attention for the very same problems, more than 30 years after the war. By that time, it was too late for some Korean War veterans who had suffered in silence until it was all too much to take. Many more Korean War veterans, not necessarily suffering from PTSD but rather of other injuries related to their wartime service, continued to fight for recognition and medical assistance. Not until the 1990s did veterans from the battle of the Chosin Reservoir receive medical assistance from the US government for frostbite-related health complications – something which the veterans themselves had been fighting for since the 1950s.