Combat Operational Stress

Combat Stress

A high percentage of troops exposed to combat and other high stress environments may show great resilience over time. For the rest of the troops the psychological and behavioral issues may include, but are not limited to; sleep problems, changes in smoking or drinking, depression and posttraumatic stress disorder.

Around 20% of the 300,000 troops recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan revealed mental health concerns and one-third accessed mental health services in the first year home. 12% were found to have a mental health problem. Troops exposed to the most combat and life risk are at greatest risk of mental health problems on return.


Combat/Operational Stress Reactions (or COSRs) are normal reactions to abnormally stressful events – like combat or other dangerous operations. COSRs are NOT a medical illness, and people who experience COSRs are NOT sick or weak. COSRs are our bodies’ way of protesting or slowing us down when we have to push ourselves past the regular limits of endurance. The “symptoms” of COSRs can look a lot like the symptoms of PTSD, ASD, or Adjustment Disorders. The difference, though, is that the typical COSR has only a few symptoms and they tend to occur immediately after stressful action and get better quickly without significant “treatment.”

Often the combat reactions are used at home for non-combat situations. Maintaining the battle mind set can cause conflicts at home and with others. Eventually this can take a toll on relationships and careers. Take a look at the Battlemind brochure on how to adjust to the home mind set.

The Deployment Health Clinical Center (DHCC)

The DHCC web site ( offers information on Combat/Operational Stress including the following subjects:

Policies and Directives
Clinical Guidance
Forms and Measures
Fact Sheets
Related Information
Education and Training