It is important that we understand how combat and operational stress were treated for returning veterans of conflicts before 2003—but we must not rehash these lessons or attempt to use them as solutions to the challenges that contemporary combat veterans face. The norm of their exposure has shifted, requiring an expanded, enhanced, and more deliberate prevention and treatment strategy.
The generation of active-duty personnel who entered service before the continuing conflict in Iraq began in a more or less peacetime naval service. For them, the norm was periods of intensive operations, usually of short to mid-term length, followed by less stressful tours back home where reintegration into life in the continental United States was a matter of fact. This cohort includes personnel who are still on active or reserve duty and now rank E-6/O-4 and above.