Unfortunately, scores of military veterans are currently suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of a traumatic event they experienced during service. Researchers from the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System have concluded a study suggesting that current members of the U.S. military have experienced an adverse childhood event (ACE), which may have led to them enlisting for service.

"Further research is needed to understand how best to support service members and veterans who may have experienced ACEs," lead researcher Dr. John R. Blosnich and his colleagues said in a statement. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, six out of every 10 men and five out of every 10 women suffer at least one traumatic event during their lifetime.

Blosnich and his colleagues collected data from a behavioral risk surveillance system and conducted telephone interviews including over 60,000 people to compare the number incidences of ACEs among people with or without a history of serving in the military. The research divided ACEs into 11 categories that included living with someone who is mentally ill, alcoholic or incarcerated, witnessing partner violence, being physically abused, touched sexually or forced to have sex. Researchers also took into account the comparison between military personnel who served in the draft era versus the all-volunteer era after 1973.

Findings revealed that 12.7 percent of the study participants reported serving in the military, 24 percent of which were men and two percent women. Men with a history of military service were twice as likely to have suffered any form of sexual abuse compared to their nonmilitary counterparts. Eleven percent of military men were touched sexually as children compared to 4.8 percent of people with no history of service, 9.6 percent were forced to touch another person sexually compared to 4.2 percent, and 3.7 percent were forced to have sex compared to 1.6 percent. Results also showed that men with a history of military service during the draft era were less inclined to use drugs compared to household men.

Men enlisted in military service during the all-volunteer era reported a higher prevalance of ACEs in all 11 categories compared to nonmilitary men. Women with a history of military service during the all-volunteer era were also more likely to report being touched sexually compared to women who did not serve in the military. Women with a military background reported a higher prevalence of physical abuse, household alcohol abuse, exposure to domestic violence, and emotional abuse.

Source: Blosnich J, et al. Greater Odds of Adverse Childhood Experiences in Those with Military Service. JAMA Psychiatry. 2014.