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The impact of prior deployment experience on civilian employment after military service
  1. Jaime L Horton1,
  2. Isabel G Jacobson1,
  3. Charlene A Wong1,
  4. Timothy S Wells1,
  5. Edward J Boyko2,
  6. Besa Smith1,
  7. Margaret A K Ryan3,
  8. Tyler C Smith1,
  9. for the Millennium Cohort Study Team
  1. 1Deployment Health Research Department, Naval Health Research Center, San Diego, California, USA
  2. 2Department of Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle Epidemiologic Research and Information Center, Seattle, Washington, USA
  3. 3Clinical Investigation Program, Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton, Camp Pendleton, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Jaime L Horton, Deployment Health Research Department, Naval Health Research Center, 140 Sylvester Road, San Diego, CA 92106-5122, USA; Jaime.Horton{at}


Objective To determine if deployment to recent military operations or other health, demographic, or military-related characteristics were associated with employment after military service.

Methods Former US active duty military service members participating in the Millennium Cohort Study, a population-based sample of US military personnel that began in July of 2001, were prospectively followed from the time of baseline health reporting to self-reported employment status after military separation.

Results Of the 9099 separated personnel meeting inclusion criteria, 17% reported unemployment after military service. In multivariable modelling, prior deployment experiences, with or without reported combat, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were not significantly associated with employment status postservice. Among those who routinely retired from service with a pension, positive screens for depression (OR, 1.67; 95% CI, 1.05 to 2.63) and panic/anxiety (OR, 1.63; 95% CI, 1.10 to 2.43) were significantly associated with subsequent unemployment. Poor physical health, female sex, black race, lower education and disabling illnesses/injuries were also predictive of postservice unemployment.

Conclusions After stratifying for reason for military separation, mental disorders like depression or panic/anxiety and poor physical health may have greater impact than prior deployment experiences or PTSD on the ability to find or maintain employment postservice. These findings may guide support for veterans most in need of job placement services after military service.

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