VANCOUVER, Wash., Aug. 4 (UPI) — Many U.S. combat veterans face significant socioeconomic challenges including higher rates of disability and unemployment, researchers found.
“Veterans who saw combat started their work lives at a relative disadvantage that they were unable to overcome,” Alair MacLean of Washington State University Vancouver said in a statement.
“Soldiers exposed to combat were more likely than non-combat veterans to be disabled and unemployed in their mid-20s and to remain so throughout their work life.”
The researchers used data from a longitudinal survey of families and individuals that has been conducted annually since 1968 and compared veterans and non-veterans who would have been ages 25-55 in any year between 1968 to 2003, who would have eligible to serve in World War II, the Korean, post-Korean, Vietnam and post-Vietnam eras.
The study, published in the American Sociological Review, found in 1968 slightly more than 10 percent of combat veterans were disabled, but this increased to more than 20 percent in 2003.
Combat veterans tended to be employed in the initial years of the survey period at higher rates than the non-combat veteran and civilians, but they have suffered significantly higher levels of unemployment than non-veterans or non-combat veterans in most years after 1975, the study said.
“What the data suggests is that combat may scar veterans who experience it,” MacLean said.
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