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Veteran health in the U.S. - Statistics & Facts

In 2019, there were over 17 million military veterans in the United States. Physical health, mental health, and health care services are especially important for military veterans given the stressful and strenuous work that can be involved in such an occupation. In the United States, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), a subdivision of the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), is responsible for providing all forms of health care to veterans. As of 2020, just over 12 million people in the United States were insured by some form of military heath care. However, opinions regarding the VA vary and it is sometimes criticised for not providing adaquate care for a population that the U.S. governement and general population often praise. For example, a survey from 2021 found that around 35 percent of U.S. veterans felt health care from the VA was generally worse than what most Americans receive, while 34 percent felt it was about the same and only 21 percent felt it was generally better.

Common health conditions and risks among veterans

Those who have served in the military have been shown to be more prone to some specific health issues than those who have not served. A report published by the CDC in 2021 found that male veterans were more likely to report having multiple chronic health conditions than their nonveteran counterparts, with 30 percent of veterans aged 25 to 64 years reporting multiple chronic conditions compared to 18 percent of nonveterans. Chronic health conditions that male veterans were more likely to report suffering from included hypertension, arthritis, diabetes, cancer, and stroke. Another survey from a different source found that among Iraq and Afgahnistan veterans who had a service-related injury, 41 percent stated this injury always affected their daily life, while 30 percent stated their injury affected their daily life most of the time.

Mental health among veterans

Although physical injuries are often the first to come to mind when thinking about service-related injuries among veterans, some of the most common injuries and health problems reported by veterans during service after 9/11 include sleep problems, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression. In fact a survey of veterans and service members who incurred a physical or mental injury, illness, or wound while serving in the military on or after September 11, 2001 found that almost 83 percent reported experiencing PTSD. Due to the intense nature of the work and the susceptibility of mental health problems such as PTSD and depression, suicide among veterans remains a serious and ongoing problem in the United States. However, a large share of veterans suffering from mental illness or substance use disorder do not receive the treatment they require.

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