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>50% of Returning Vets Plagued by Chronic Pain and Other Conditions

Vocational and Social Well-Being Higher than Health Satisfaction

Newswise — In the months after separating from military service, most veterans are less satisfied with their health than with their work or social relationships, found a study by Veterans Affairs researchers. While the veterans surveyed were mostly satisfied with their work and social well-being, a majority were dealing with chronic physical health conditions and a third reported chronic mental health conditions.

More than 200,000 U.S. service members transition out of military service each year. Researchers have pointed to the early transition period as a critical time to address challenges veterans may face in readjusting to civilian life.

To investigate which of these challenges are most pressing to newly separated veterans, researchers from the VA National Center for PTSD and colleagues surveyed almost 10,000 veterans from a population-based roster of all separating service members.

All participants left the military in the fall of 2016. Veterans were surveyed about three months after their separation, and then six months after that.

The researchers found that the biggest concern was health. At both three and nine months after leaving the military, 53% of participants said they had chronic physical health conditions. About 33% reported chronic mental health conditions at both time points.

The most commonly reported health conditions were chronic pain, sleep problems, anxiety, and depression. Slightly more than half of participants said they had reduced satisfaction with their health between when they first left the military and a few months later. Health satisfaction did not change much between three and nine months after separation.

While physical and mental health was a concern for many veterans, most reported high vocational and social well-being. The majority of participants said they were satisfied with their work and social relationships and that they were functioning well in these areas. According to Vogt, the fact that most participants had high work and social satisfaction "highlights the resilience of the veteran population, and should provide some reassurance to those concerned about the well-being of newly separated veterans."

More than three-quarters of participants said they were in an intimate relationship in the months after they left the military. Almost two-thirds reported that they had regular contact with their friends and extended family and that they were involved in their broader communities.

Over half of participants had found work three months after military separation. While most participants reported high work satisfaction, the study group showed an overall decline in work functioning over the first year after military separation. Functioning declined even though overall employment rates increased. The researchers hypothesized that this decline in work functioning could be due to health concerns, which are known to erode broader well-being over time.

 

Read the full press release on Newswise.

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