Most Post-9/11 Veterans Report Doing Well at Work and at Home

by U.S. Medicine

April 10, 2017

By Brenda L. Mooney

Soldier reunites with his wife and son last year in Chicago as the 863rd Engineer Battalion returns home after a 10-month deployment. Army photo by SPC Brianna Saville

BOSTON – The overwhelming majority of veterans of U.S. conflicts since the terrorist attack on 9/11/2001 are nothing like the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)-addled, homeless opioid-addicts too often depicted in the media and in political campaigns.

In fact, according to a new study appearing in Journal of Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, most servicemembers who were discharged from the military this century apparently are doing well with their careers and family life, despite exposure to war zones.1

The research was conducted by the Women’s Health Sciences Division, National Center for PTSD at the VA Boston Healthcare System, the Boston University School of Medicine and the National Center for PTSD at the White River Junction, VT, VAMC.

Study authors pointed out that more than 2.4 million servicemembers have left the military since the Afghanistan and Iraq wars began, with another one million or so expected to separate from service in the next six years.

To determine how they and their families negotiated the many changes that come with the transition and reintegration process, the researchers surveyed a national sample of 524 post-9/11 veterans — 282 women and 240 men –to evaluate their quality of work and home life. They also were questioned about PTSD.

Results indicated that only 3% of the men reported being unemployed and seeking work. Among employed men, 90% reported working full-time with a median income of $50,000-75,000, and more than 80% of men reporting that they were somewhat or very satisfied with their jobs. While about a fourth of the men said they had some impairment in their occupational functioning, only 2% said it got in their way occurred often or always.

Women, meanwhile, were more likely than men to report being unemployed (6%) and somewhat less likely to report working full-time if they were employed, at 83%. The female veterans reported a median salary range of $35,000-50,000, and, like men, about a fourth reported sometimes experiencing impairment. Still, more than 75% said they were somewhat or very satisfied with their jobs.

As for family life, about three-quarters of the men and women reported that they were somewhat or very satisfied with their intimate relationships. Nearly 90% of the women and only a slightly lower percentage of men said they were pleased with their parenting experiences.

“Despite well-documented mental health problems for a small subset of veterans, the majority appear to be doing well on most indicators of work and family quality of life despite their war-time experiences,” emphasized corresponding author Dawne S. Vogt, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine and research psychologist in the Women’s Health Sciences Division, National Center for PTSD. “These findings speak to the resilience of our servicemembers, a topic that has received too little attention in the broader national conversation about veteran readjustment.”

The study also found that PTSD had a negative effect on post-discharge life for some veterans. “PTSD was not associated with either employment or relationship status; however, it did predict poorer work and family functioning and satisfaction for both men and women, with the most consistent negative effects on intimate relationships. Several gender differences were found, primarily with respect to work experiences,” study authors explained.

Those results “support the need for interventions that can mitigate the negative effect of PTSD and other associated mental health conditions on several aspects of work and family quality of life,” the researchers concluded. “Findings contribute to research suggesting both similarities and differences in the post-military readjustment of male and female post-9/11 veterans and underscore the need for additional consideration of the unique work-related challenges women experience following military service.”

  1. Vogt D, Smith BN, Fox AB, Amoroso T, Taverna E, Schnurr PP. Consequences of PTSD for the work and family quality of life of female and male U.S. Afghanistan and Iraq War veterans. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2016 Dec 31. doi: 10.1007/s00127-016-1321-5. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 28040826.

6 Comments

  • Matthew Jennings says:

    As an OIF veteran and a physician working with the VA, I can tell you that the majority of PTSD disabled patients had signs of mental illness prior to enlisting. Many have family histories of anxiety and depression and many had turbulent family dynamics in their youth and developed poor coping mechanisms which were exacerbated by the stress of military service, deployments and combat.

    I would like to see a study or retrospective review of those with service connected PTSD to see how many had predisposing mental illness or evidence of discipline issues in school or legal trouble as kids/teens prior to enlisting. As an old Master Sergeant once said to me, “They were broke before they joined”.

    It is good to see the results of this study showing that the vast majority of us are doing well with no signs of mental illness despite combat experiences. I do get tired of hearing from the press about how sick I should be.

  • Matthew Jennings says:

    As an OIF veteran and a physician working with the VA, I can tell you that the majority of PTSD disabled patients had signs of mental illness prior to enlisting. Many have family histories of anxiety and depression and many had turbulent family dynamics in their youth and developed poor coping mechanisms which were exacerbated by the stress of military service, deployments and combat.

    I would like to see a study or retrospective review of those with service connected PTSD to see how many had predisposing mental illness or evidence of discipline issues in school or legal trouble as kids/teens prior to enlisting. As an old Master Sergeant once said to me, “They were broke before they joined”.

    It is good to see the results of this study showing that the vast majority of us are doing well with no signs of mental illness despite combat experiences. I do get tired of hearing from the press about how sick I should be.

  • SFC Wayne Smith says:

    Who and where did they get this survey from. Unreal the way you people get your info. I am around a lot of VETS. That would disagree with these results!! Asking 500 or so of our great military out of the million plus service members, Is a smack in the face .

  • SFC Wayne Smith says:

    Who and where did they get this survey from. Unreal the way you people get your info. I am around a lot of VETS. That would disagree with these results!! Asking 500 or so of our great military out of the million plus service members, Is a smack in the face .

  • Karen Bruce NP-C C&P examiner says:

    One has to wonder then why the claims volume for mental health and medical problems related to military service are so radically increased in the population. Especially with regard to claims for Unemployability and disability which seem so largely overstated and/or unwarranted. There seems to be an unprecedented and misguided sense of entitlement in this population.

  • Karen Bruce NP-C C&P exami says:

    One has to wonder then why the claims volume for mental health and medical problems related to military service are so radically increased in the population. Especially with regard to claims for Unemployability and disability which seem so largely overstated and/or unwarranted. There seems to be an unprecedented and misguided sense of entitlement in this population.


Related Articles

Best Pain Rating Scales for Cognitively Impaired Veterans

RICHMOND, VA—Cognitive-behavioral impairment can be intensified by pain in traumatic brain injury patients and impede rehabilitation efforts, according to a new study. While multiple self-report pain assessment tools are proven reliable in cognitively intact adults... View Article

Seeing Combat Can Make Aging More Difficult for Veterans

PORTLAND, OR—Being exposed to combat makes a significant difference in how military veterans fare during aging, according to a new study, which also found that the experience increases the risk for depression and anxiety later... View Article


U.S. Medicine Recommends


More From department of defense dod

Department of Defense (DoD)

New Comprehensive VA/DoD Guideline Seeks to Stem Tide of Suicides

Servicemembers, Veterans Take Their Own Lives at Higher Rates WASHINGTON—In recent decades, suicide rates have soared in the United States, increasing 25% from 1999 to 2016. The issue has been especially acute among military servicemembers... View Article

Army Conducts First-in-Human Trial of MERS Coronavirus Vaccine

SILVER SPRING, MD—Middle East respiratory syndrome emerged first in Saudi Arabia in 2012 before spreading to several other countries, including a major outbreak in South Korea. In total, the MERS coronavirus infected more than 2,200... View Article

Department of Defense (DoD)

DoD acknowledges its medical adverse event reporting is ‘unreliable’

The process for tracking the DoD’s most serious adverse medical events is “fragmented, impeding the Defense Health Agency’s (DHA) ability to ensure that it has received complete information,” according to a new review.

Department of Defense (DoD)

Automation Speeds Results and Increases Accuracy for Point-of-Care Testing at Walter Reed NMMC

With a long history of point of care testing at both of its predecessor organizations, the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) laboratory services staff were keenly aware of the advantages of using portable testing devices to obtain rapid patient assessments.

Department of Defense (DoD)

High Rate of Pectoralis Tears Among Deployed Servicemembers Lifting Weights

Lifting weights is one way servicemembers keep in peak physical condition during deployment.

Subscribe to U.S. Medicine Print Magazine

U.S. Medicine is mailed free each month to physicians, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and administrators working for Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense and U.S. Public Health Service.

Subscribe Now

Receive Our Email Newsletter

Stay informed about federal medical news, clinical updates and reports on government topics for the federal healthcare professional.

Sign Up