This article examines the association of military service-related exposures (SREs) with physical health trajectories to establish whether combat and other hazards have lasting connections to health in later life.
Purpose of the Study: We examined the association of military service-related exposures (SREs) with physical health trajectories to establish whether combat and other hazards have lasting connections to health in later life. We also examined potential confounders and mechanisms to further understand the associations. Design and Methods: We used the 2013 HRS Veterans Mail Survey linked to the longitudinal Health and Retirement Study (HRS) to examine military service experiences and health over a decade (2000–2010) among veteran men. We employed latent class analysis to disaggregate trajectories of health in later life. Results: Most veteran men experienced good health over the decade. Although we found a connection between combat and later health, it was driven primarily by hazardous or traumatic exposures. Service-related disability, current health behaviors, and mental health were not likely explanations for these associations. Implications: The measurement of service experiences is primary in understanding health implications of military service and projecting the health service needs of aging veterans. SREs are varied and complex and have differential connections to health. These connections remain unexplained by current behaviors and mental health, suggesting the need to examine earlier life course pathways and mechanisms.
Taylor, M.G., Urena, S., Kail, B.L.. 2016. Service-Related Exposures and Physical Health Trajectories Among Aging Veteran Men. The Gerontologist, 56:1, 92–103.