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

In 2018, there were around 18 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. Health insurance rates have been shown to be higher among those who have served in the military with around 11.75 million U.S. Americans with health insurance through military health care in 2018.

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. For example, those who have served reported being diagnosed with cancer at higher rates than those who had not served. Some of the most commonly reported service-related physical injuries among veterans include musculoskeletal and joint injuries, tinnitus, hearing loss, and traumatic brain injury. Furthermore, military veterans can also be more susceptible to mental health issues such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As of 2016, around 15 percent of male veterans had been diagnosed with a depressive disorder, compared to 12 percent of males who had not served.

Military veterans suffer from the same health risks such as drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, unhealthy diets, and physical inactivity to a greater or lesser degree as average citizens. While 35 percent of U.S. males who had not served in the military suffered from insufficient sleep, 43 percent of males who had served suffered in comparison, with rates for females showing similar differences. Rates of physical inactivity were lower for those who had served in the military compared to average citizens, however rates of tobacco use were found to be higher.

Given the intense nature of the work and the susceptibility of mental health problems such as PTSD and depression, suicide among veterans is a serious and ongoing problem in the United States. A recent survey of veterans found that in 2018, 43 percent stated they had considered taking their own life since joining the military, while only 9 percent reported considering taking their own life before joining the military. Rates of suicide among veterans have gradually increased over the past decade, highlighting the need for specialized care and access to quality and affordable mental health treatment for this population.

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Veteran health in the U.S.

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