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US Veterans Use Of VA Mental Health Services And Disability Compensation Increased From 2001 To 2010

Author: Jack Tsai, Robert A. Rosenheck
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There has been concern about the capacity of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system to provide care for veterans returning from war zones in the Middle East and Afghanistan. We used two nationally representative surveys of US veterans in 2001 and 2010 to examine changes in the veteran population and veterans’ use of health care services after a decade of war. The population was older and more diverse in 2010 than in 2001. In both years, veterans who served in the World War II era or earlier were more likely to have been exposed to combat-related trauma than veterans of more recent service eras. In 2010 veterans who served in the Persian Gulf War era (1990 through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan) were more likely to have used VA mental health services and to have received VA disability compensation than veterans of previous service eras. Compared to veterans in 2001, those in 2010 were two times more likely to have used any VA health services and were more likely to have received VA disability compensation. These findings highlight changes in the veteran population over time that are important to consider in planning for future VA services.

There has been concern about the capacity of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system to provide care for veterans returning from war zones in the Middle East and Afghanistan. We used two nationally representative surveys of US veterans in 2001 and 2010 to examine changes in the veteran population and veterans’ use of health care services after a decade of war. The population was older and more diverse in 2010 than in 2001. In both years, veterans who served in the World War II era or earlier were more likely to have been exposed to combat-related trauma than veterans of more recent service eras. In 2010 veterans who served in the Persian Gulf War era (1990 through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan) were more likely to have used VA mental health services and to have received VA disability compensation than veterans of previous service eras. Compared to veterans in 2001, those in 2010 were two times more likely to have used any VA health services and were more likely to have received VA disability compensation. These findings highlight changes in the veteran population over time that are important to consider in planning for future VA services.

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