This study utilised data from a longitudinal sample of a cohort study UK Armed Forces personnel since 2003. A range of self-reported military and sociodemographic factors were analysed as predictors of probable Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, common mental disorders, alcohol misuse, unemployment and financial hardship.
Veteran hardship was mostly associated with factors linked to socio-economic status: age, education, and childhood adversity. Few military-specific factors predicted mental health or socio-economic hardship, except method of leaving (where those leaving due to medical or unplanned discharge were more likely to encounter most forms of hardship as veterans), and rank which is itself related to socioeconomic status. Transition and resettlement provisions become increasingly generous with longer service, yet this paper shows the need for those services becomes progressively less necessary as personnel acquire seniority and skills, and instead could be best targeted at unplanned leavers, taking socioeconomic status into consideration. Many will agree that longer service should be more rewarded, but the opposite is true if provision instead reflects need rather than length of service. This is a social, political and ethical dilemma.
Burdett, H., Fear, N.T., Wessely, S. et al. Military and demographic predictors of mental ill-health and socioeconomic hardship among UK veterans. BMC Psychiatry 21, 304 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-021-03296-x.