Study finds little change in mental health disorder rates among veterans
Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | 11.21.16
(Danville) -- A new study finds mental health disorder rates for veterans are relatively constant across generations, despite an increased emphasis on care.
Geisinger Health System in Danville is running the study, funded by the US Department of Defense.
It's believed to be the first of its kind in the nation.
The study of 1,800 veterans of the Vietnam, Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq wars finds little difference in mental health disorder rates across the generations.
However, senior researcher Joseph Boscarino says the military is recognizing that it needs to adapt.
"The Vietnam War, you were expected to go into combat, be exposed to heavy combat all the time. You were constantly exposed to it in different environments, whereas now the military is very cognizant of the damage that can cause people and tries to minimize that," says Boscarino.
According to the preliminary data from the study, more than a quarter of veterans of recent wars had a mental health visit within the past year.
Boscarino says compared to Vietnam and Gulf War veterans, the more recent veterans were more likely to seek mental health care, a sign that the stigma around the disorders is fading away.
"They have much better social support systems and counseling. They don't perceive it as a stigma so much as earlier veterans may have, so they have more support systems available. So I would think that the manifestation later on would be less than we saw with the Vietnam generation, but we don't know that for sure," he says.
Boscarino says the results are preliminary - they're set to be presented later this month, with a more complete paper coming out next year.
Published in Body & Mind