Prevalence of Mental Health Problems Among Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Who Have and Have Not Received VA Services

Published in: Psychiatric Services, v. 65, no. 6, June 2014, p. 833-835

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2014

by Christine Anne Vaughan, Terry L. Schell, Terri Tanielian, Lisa H. Jaycox, Grant N. Marshall

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OBJECTIVE: Roughly half of veterans who served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) have not received services from the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). This study assessed probable posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression among OEF/OIF veterans by receipt of VHA services. METHODS: In 2010 a mixed-mode survey assessing symptoms and VHA services utilization was fielded in a random sample of 913 New York State OEF/OIF veterans. RESULTS: Probable PTSD and depression were roughly three times more common among veterans who had received VHA services (N=537) (PTSD, 23%; depression, 21%) than those who had not (N=376) (PTSD, 6%; depression, 8%). CONCLUSIONS: Studies of veterans receiving VHA services likely overstate the prevalence of mental health problems among the broader OEF/OIF veteran population. However, many veterans with mental health problems are not receiving VHA services. Policies that improve outreach to this population may improve health outcomes.

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