The return of the traumatized army veteran: a qualitative study of UK exservicemen in the aftermath of war, 1945 to 2000

June, 2019

This paper discusses the military to civilian transition for veterans with psychological disorders.


In the immediate aftermath of World War Two, veterans who “had made satisfactory adjustments to civilian life before the war and to service life during the war” began to experience “severe difficulties under the stresses presented to them by their return to civilian life” (Main, 1947, p. 354). Dr Tom Main, himself a recently demobilized army psychiatrist, added that most of those so affected had not expected “to become ill-at-ease in familiar surroundings, phobic, depressed or irritable, asocial, confused, retarded, aggressive, antisocial or restless”. It was hypothesized that difficulties of transition had adversely affected the “social, domestic or industrial” lives of a significant sub-group of veterans. During World War Two, it had been recognized that adjustment was particularly challenging for veterans who had suffered a post-traumatic illness. In 1943, a follow-up investigation of 120 servicemen discharged from the army with a psychological disorder found that “they were less usefully employed than before, earning less, less contented, less tolerable to live with, less healthy” (Lewis, 1943, p. 168).

Full Reference

Jones, E., Bhui, K., & Engelbrecht, A. (2019). The return of the traumatized army veteran: a qualitative study of UK ex-servicemen in the aftermath of war, 1945 to 2000. International review of psychiatry, 31(1), 14-24. Available at:

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