Office of Research & Development

National Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Brain Bank

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Biorepository Brain Bank

What is posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?

PTSD can occur after experiencing a traumatic event. A traumatic event is something terrible and scary that you see, hear about, or that happens to you, like:

  • Combat exposure
  • Child sexual or physical abuse
  • Sexual or physical assault
  • Terrorist attack
  • Serious accidents, like a car wreck
  • Natural disasters, like a fire, tornado, hurricane, flood, or earthquake

During a traumatic event, you think that your life or others' lives are in danger. You may feel afraid or feel that you have no control over what is happening around you. Most people have some stress-related reactions after a traumatic event; but, not everyone gets PTSD. If your reactions don't go away over time and they disrupt your life, you may have PTSD.

What is the National Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Brain Bank?

VA has made a major commitment to understanding and treating PTSD. As part of this commitment, VA funded the National Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Brain Bank (PTSD Brain Bank). The PTSD Brain Bank is a human tissue bank that collects, processes, stores and gives out research specimens for future scientific studies. Veterans and non-Veterans who have been diagnosed with PTSD presently or in the past are eligible to participate. We also accept those without brain disorders. In certain cases, those with other disorders such as major depression may also be eligible, please call to speak with a researcher at (800) 762-6609.

Who can take part in this study?

 male veteran and significant otherVeterans and non-Veterans who have been diagnosed with PTSD presently or in the past may enroll in the PTSD Brain Bank. In certain cases, those with other mental health conditions such as major depression may be eligible. We also accept those without brain disorders. We hope that anyone interested in supporting PTSD research might consider this donation.

Scientists studying neurological disorders must compare brain tissue donated by people affected by these diseases with tissue from people who are not affected by them in order to understand the causes of these conditions, if you do not have a neurological disease or disorder please click here for information on joining the VA Biorepository Brain Bank.

A Living Study

It is never too soon to enroll in the PTSD Brain Bank. The health information you provide now will support current research, and upon your death, make your tissue donation even more valuable for future research. However, pre-enrollment is not required. Consent can be given by your next-of-kin immediately following death. We encourage interested individuals to talk with their families and friends about their intentions to be a brain donor. Talking about these issues now helps to reduce stress on your family at the time of your death.

What can I expect if I take part in this study?

 female veteran To enroll in this study, you will be asked to review and sign a consent form. In addition to your consent, we will also need the consent of your next-of-kin (e.g., spouse, child, sibling) because this person will need to confirm your decision to donate after your passing. Even after signing the consent forms, you still have the right to withdraw at any time if you so desire. Your VA benefits and your VA health care cannot be influenced in any way by your agreement or refusal to participate.

After signing the consent, we will ask you to complete surveys via mail and telephone about your current health and past health history. These surveys will ask for things like your name, birthdate, sex, education level, and race or ethnic group, as well as details of your military service (if you served). Some questions will ask whether you have been exposed to chemicals at home, work, or if you were in the military. Other questions will ask about your mental health history, including whether you are currently experiencing PTSD symptoms or if you have experienced these symptoms in the past. You will be asked to complete a brief test of memory and concentration. We will ask about the physical and mental health history of you and your family. The initial surveys that you complete upon entry into the study should take about 2 hours total, but this time will be broken up into smaller individual sessions.

We will update this information every year by telephone or by mail. The telephone call and surveys should take about 30 minutes to complete. From time to time, we will also look at your VA (if you have one) or other medical records to collect information about your health and add that information to the PTSD Brain Bank database so that we can follow your health and care over time. This will not require any of your time.

 senior male veterans All collected information will be labeled with a code that does not identify you directly, and kept confidential as required by law. Study results may be published for scientific purposes, but your records and identity will not be revealed. The PTSD Brain Bank complies with the requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 and its privacy regulations as well as all other applicable laws that protect your privacy.

Your tissue donation, consisting of your brain, spinal cord, and cerebrospinal fluid, will be collected at the time of your death and will not require any surgery or collection procedures at this time. Upon death, your family or someone they designate must call the on-call study researcher. After we receive permission from your next-of-kin to proceed, we will make arrangements for the recovery of your donated organs, including transportation to and from the hospital or facility where the donation will take place. We are responsible for all costs related to your organ donation as well as transportation of your body to and from the site where the donation is recovered. However, we cannot assume the usual costs of the funeral, burial or cremation. If you have questions about VA death benefits please speak with your local benefits representative or visit the Veterans Benefits Administration web page for more information. The procedure will be done professionally and with dignity at the closest VA Medical Center or by medical professionals at another facility if the VA facility is unable to perform this in a timely manner. An open casket viewing is possible after donation if that is your family's wish. If your next of kin requests it, a copy of the pathology report will be provided when it becomes available.

What are the potential benefits of taking part?

Your donation may help future efforts in PTSD research and treatment. However, taking part in this study will not benefit you directly.

Thank you for thinking about this important issue. We have included some answers to frequently asked questions here. Additional information is presented in our brochurehere. We are always willing to answer any questions you or your family may have. During working hours, we can be reached at our toll free number: 800-762-6609, or at our office number: 857-364-3877.

VA National Center for PTSD


During work hours, we can be reached at (800) 762-6609.



PHONE: Veterans CrisisLine-Badge-Phone

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For more information on PTSD, please visit the webpages for NIMH PTSD as well as the National Center for PTSD.

Questions about the R&D website? Email the Web Team.

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.