People in the Military Experience More Adverse Childhood Experiences
Enrolling in the military can be a form of escape for some people. According to a new study, men and women who have served in the U.S. military tend to report more adverse childhood events in comparison to people from the general public.
In this study headed by John R. Blosnich, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System, and colleagues, the researchers analyzed data on more than 60,000 people that were taken from a behavioral risk surveillance system and phone interviews. The sample encompassed both the all-volunteer era, which started in 1973 and the draft era. The researchers focused on 11 categories of adverse childhood experienced (ACEs). Some of these factors included living with a mentally ill person or an alcoholic and being physically or sexually abused.
Overall, 12.7 percent of the participants served in the military. More men than women (24 percent versus two percent) enrolled in the military. During the all-volunteer era, men who enrolled reported more ACEs in all 11 categories in comparison to men who did not serve the country. More specifically, the researchers found that 11 percent of men in the military were touched sexually as children whereas 4.8 percent of men from the general public were. 9.6 percent of military men and 4.2 percent of non-military men were forced to touch another person sexually. 3.7 percent of military men and 1.6 percent of non-military men were forced to have sex as children.
When the researchers examined military men during the draft era, they only found one difference. Military men had a lower prevalence of household drug use than non-military men. The researchers found similar trends in the prevalence rate of ACEs in all 11 categories for women in the military and women from the general public. However, the differences in the rates of ACEs between the two groups of women were smaller.
"Further research is needed to understand how best to support service members and veterans who may have experienced ACEs," the researchers concluded according to the press release.
The study was published in JAMA Psychiatry.