Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a complex mental disorder with psychological and emotional components, caused by exposure to single or repeated extreme traumatic events found in war, terrorist attacks, natural or man-caused disasters, and by violent personal assaults and accidents. Mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when the brain is violently rocked back and forth within the skull following a blow to the head or neck as in contact sports, or when in close proximity to a blast pressure wave following detonation of explosives in the battlefield. Penetrating TBI occurs when an object penetrates the skull and damages the brain, and is caused by vehicle crashes, gunshot wound to the head, and exposure to solid fragments in the proximity of explosions, and other combat-related head injuries. Despite clinical studies and improved understanding of the mechanisms of cellular damage, prevention and treatment strategies for patients with PTSD and TBI remain unsatisfactory. To develop an improved plan for treating and impeding progression of PTSD and TBI, it is important to identify underlying biochemical changes that may play key role in the initiation and progression of these disorders. This review identifies three common biochemical events, namely oxidative stress, chronic inflammation and excitotoxicity that participate in the initiation and progression of these conditions. While these features are separately discussed, in many instances, they overlap. This review also addresses the goal of developing novel treatments and drug regimens, aimed at combating this triad of events common to, and underlying, injury to the brain.