After the Vietnam conflict, a large number of American combatants began to experience a serious psychological disorder characterized by severe flashbacks, recurring nightmares, panic and depression, emotional numbness and sometimes-violent behavior. The American Psychiatric Association named the Vietnam Veteran disease, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In previous wars the disorder had other names such as "shell shock" in World War I; "battle fatigue" in World War II; and "operational exhaustion" in the Korean War. Researchers have found that rates of PTSD are generally lower among Persian Gulf War (1991) Veterans than among military personnel from prior wars. On the other hand, 10% to 18% of Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation New Dawn (Afghanistan and Iraq) Veterans are likely to have PTSD.

When a Veteran witnesses a traumatic event and he/she is reliving that event over and over, he/she may be suffering from PTSD. If so, the Veteran may be eligible for disability compensation, through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). When the Veteran files a claim with the VA, that information is sent to the JSRRC to initiate research to document the stressing event.

The role of JSRRC is to support the Department of Veterans Affairs with military unit records and official data base research to verify the Veteran’s involvement in stressful incidents while serving in the military. To conduct this research, the Veteran must provide the "who, what, where, and when" of each stressor.