Overseas Deployment, Combat Exposure and Well-Being in the 2010 National Survey of Veterans

Ryan D. Edwards, Queens College, City University of New York (CUNY)

Recent military engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan raise questions about the effects on service members of overseas deployment, which can include service in a combat or war zone, exposure to casualties, or both. The 2010 National Survey of Veterans, which asked a broad cross section of living veteran cohorts about deployment and combat exposure, provides new insights into relationships between military service and outcomes. Analysis of these data suggests that impacts on the current socioeconomic well-being of returning veterans may be small, but the effects of combat exposure on self-reported health and other nonpecuniary indicators of their well-being appear to be negative. Among older veterans, where there is clearer sorting into treatment and control groups through variation in exposure by year of birth, patterns are similar. Results are consistent with a veterans compensation system that replaces lost earnings but not necessarily other harms such as mental health trauma.

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Presented in Session 102: Stress and Health