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Assessing the impact of military service on our returning veterans

With over 200,000 individuals currently separating from military service each year, a growing number of veterans are faced with readjusting to civilian life. Jay Teachman and his colleagues from Western Washington University studied employment, health and family life of veterans of World War II, the Vietnam War and the most recent military eras.

From the studies, patterns emerged that detailed disadvantages among veterans in educational and occupational trajectories compared to their civilian peers. These gaps diminished over time but they vary significantly by military branch, length of service and demographic group.

Reservist and civilians fared better in regard to physical health compared to active-duty veterans, even when considering smoking and alcohol consumption.

Noncombat, active-duty veterans experience better mental health than nonveterans and reservists. The differences are less apparent after military discharge. Active-duty members of the military are more likely to choose marriage and these marriages tend to be more stable when compared to similar civilian populations.

Credit: NSF

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