American Veterans and the Evolution of Mental Health: A Historical Review of Diagnoses and Depiction (1 credit hour)

Program Summary:  This course explores the evolution of mental health for veterans using a historical perspective.  Throughout the 20th and 21st century, the ‘invisible wounds of war” have progressed from war neurosis and “soldier’s heart” to shell shock and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.   Vietnam War veterans were essential in establishing the diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and recognizing PTSD as a treatable, medical condition affecting both civilian and military populations.  The course examines archetypal military stereotypes, the continuity of stigma, and oversimplified depictions and images of US veterans.

This course is recommended for social workers, counselors, and therapists and is appropriate for beginning and intermediate levels of practice.

Readings:  American Veterans and the Evolutions of Mental Health:  A Historical Review of Diagnoses and Depiction by Stephanie K. ErwinJournal of Veterans Studies

Understanding PTSD and PTSD Treatment/ National Center for PTSD

“Book  Open the Course Reading Here.

Course Objectives:  To enhance professional practice, values, skills and knowledge by exploring the evolution of mental health for American veterans.

Learning Objectives:  Describe the history surrounding mental health diagnoses during the 20th and 21st centuries. Describe the soldier as the archetypal hero and the continuation of stigma surrounding mental health.  Describe how veterans are portrayed in mainstream society and the need for more diverse representation.

Review our pre-reading study guide.

Course Available Until: February 29, 2024.

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1: The article examines the interwoven relationship between veterans and mental health diagnoses utilizing a ___________ framework.
2: Prior to WWI, invisible wounds of the mental or psychological variety were generally distilled to
3: Which of the following would become the all-encompassing diagnosis for any non-physical ailment amongst military service members and veterans throughout the first world war?
4: During the first world war and continuing into WWII, the military would mark all those who derived a shell shock diagnosis not directly resulting from artillery blasts/proven ordnance detonation as
5: Post war, shell shock created a new understanding that ___________ could cause mental breakdowns.
6: Vietnam veterans were central to the formalized medical establishment of _________________ as a medical diagnosis in the 1980 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders third edition.
7: In the waning of the twentieth century, and the turn of the twenty-first, PTSD has become a well-documented, studied, and treated diagnosis in
8: Which of the following describes the archetype of the American soldier?
9: For American veterans in the 21st century, mental health and PTSD are no longer a socially stigmatized condition.
10: At its height in the Vietnam War, diagnosed cases of PTSD were
11: Most Americans are directly connected to military service.
12: Changes to the diagnostic criteria from the DSM-IV to DSM-5 include the relocation of PTSD to
13: Future portrayals and representations of veterans should highlight the realities of those suffering from mental health as

In order to purchase or take this course, you will need to log in. If you do not have an account, you will need to register for a free account.

After you log in, a link will appear here that will allow you to purchase this course.


Free State Social Work, LLC, provider #1235, is approved as an ACE provider to offer social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Regulatory boards are the final authority on courses accepted for continuing education credit. ACE provider approval period: 9/6/2021 - 9/6/2024. Social workers completing this course receive 1 continuing education credit.

Free State Social Work has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP NO. 6605. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. Free State Social Work is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.

G.M. Rydberg-Cox, MSW, LSCSW is the Continuing Education Director at Free State Social Work and responsible for the development of this course.  She received her Masters of Social Work in 1996 from the Jane Addams School of Social Work at the University of Illinois-Chicago and she has over 20 years of experience.  She has lived and worked as a social worker in Chicago, Boston, and Kansas City. She has practiced for many years in the area of hospital/medical social work.  The reading materials for this course were developed by another organization.