From Our 2012 Archives

Employment Key to Helping Veterans Adjust to Life Back Home

MONDAY, June 25 (HealthDay News) -- Having a job and social support are among the factors that greatly reduce the risk of violence by U.S. veterans, a new study finds.

Researchers analyzed the responses of nearly 1,400 veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and participated in a survey conducted between July 2009 and April 2010. The veterans were from all branches of the military and all 50 states.

One-third of the veterans said they had committed acts of aggression towards others in the past year. Most of those incidents involved minor aggression, but 11 percent of the veterans reported more serious violence.

The researchers found that certain factors were important in preventing violence by veterans: having a job; meeting basic needs; living stability; social support; spiritual faith; ability to care for oneself; the ability to adapt to stress; and the sense of having control over one's life.

Veterans with these factors in their lives were 92 percent less likely to report severe violence than those without these factors. More than three-quarters of the veterans did have these factors and thus posed a low threat of violence, according to the study published June 25 in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

"When you hear about veterans committing acts of violence, many people assume that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or combat exposure are to blame. But our study shows that is not necessarily true," study leader Eric Elbogen, research director of the Forensic Psychiatry Program in the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and psychologist in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, said in university news release.

Instead, the study found that veterans who didn't have enough money to cover basic needs were more likely to be violent than those with PTSD.

"Our study suggests the incidence of violence could be reduced by helping veterans develop and maintain protective factors in their lives back home," Elbogen concluded.

-- Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: University of North Carolina School of Medicine, news release, June 25, 2012