Post-9/11 Veterans Say Health Has Suffered, Survey Finds

A majority of post-9/11 veterans say their physical and/or mental health has suffered since serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and that the military is not doing enough to facilitate their transition to civilian life, a poll conducted by the Washington Post and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation finds.

Of the more than eight hundred veterans surveyed nationwide, 52 percent reported that their physical (43 percent) and/or mental health (31 percent) was worse than before they saw active duty, while 34 percent said they had received a determination of a "service-connected disability." The survey also found that 41 percent of respondents experienced outbursts of anger, 45 percent reported relationship problems with a spouse or partner, and 51 percent personally knew a service member who had attempted or committed suicide.

Fully half (51 percent) of the respondents said the military is not doing enough to transition veterans into civilian life, while 56 percent said the government is not doing enough to meet the needs of the 2.6 million post-9/11 veterans. The poll also found that 55 percent of the veterans surveyed felt disconnected from civilian life as a result of their military service, that 50 percent had had problems readjusting to civilian life, and that 69 percent felt that the average American did not understand what they had been through.

"What is different about this generation? We've asked them to do a lot more, in a smaller serving force, in some of the longest wars in our history," VA secretary Eric K. Shinseki told the Washington Post. Indeed, multiple deployments have had "a compounding effect" on the health problems and post-traumatic stress experienced by returning veterans, said Shinseki. "There's more work to be done in terms of research and understanding of what the full impact is going to be."

Rajiv Chandrasekaran. "A Legacy of Pain and Pride." Washington Post 03/29/2014. Peyton M. Craighill, Scott F. Clement, Kennedy Elliott. "Post-9/11 Veterans Suffer Large Physical and Mental Toll, Survey Finds." Washington Post 03/29/2014.