Apr 28, 2021
DoD Health Related Behaviors Survey for reserve component service members
3.8% identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB)
Significantly greater percentages of LGB personnel than non-LGB personnel reported serious psychological distress and probable PTSD ; suicidal thoughts and attempts; binge and heavy drinking; cigarette, e-cigarette, and smokeless tobacco use; illicit drug use; unwanted sexual contact;* and having been physically assaulted. These results are not specific to the Air National Guard.
* Unwanted sexual contact in the HRBS is a broader construct than sexual assault, and these survey responses do not represent official reports of sexual assault.
67.1% reported at least one prior combat or noncombat deployment
Among those who had ever deployed:
The Health Related Behaviors Survey (HRBS) is the U.S. Department of Defense's (DoD's) flagship survey for understanding the health, health-related behaviors, and well-being of service members.
Air National Guard members reported health and health behaviors that were comparable to the general population in some areas but that were concerning in others.
Air National Guard members were comparable to the general population and Healthy People 2020 goals for body weight. Their rate of binge drinking was also comparable to the general population and the Healthy People 2020 goal, while their rate of heavy drinking was less than that of the general population. Their average amount of sleep was below Healthy People 2020 goals.
Higher percentages of Air National Guard members than of the general population reported any current tobacco and nicotine use, as well as use of e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. Air National Guard members did not meet the Healthy People 2020 goal for smokeless tobacco use, but their rate of cigarette smoking did meet the Healthy People 2020 goal and was below the general population rate.
Psychological distress was about as prevalent among Air National Guard members as it is among the general population. Probable PTSD was more prevalent among Air National Guard members than the general population, while suicidal ideation and attempts were less prevalent.
Development of military-appropriate population benchmarks, especially by service branch, could facilitate goal-setting, command visibility, and incremental improvements in health-related readiness.
A low overall response rate (16.6 percent for the Air National Guard and 9.4 percent across all services) suggests that the results should be interpreted with caution and in conjunction with other existing data. Use of targeted incentives, modules administered to subsets of respondents, or a service member panel survey could help improve response rates and representation. The above comparisons with the general adult population do not control for demographic differences between the two populations.
Adapted from 2018 Department of Defense Health Related Behaviors Survey (HRBS): Results for the Reserve Component, by Sarah O. Meadows, Charles C. Engel, Rebecca L. Collins, Robin L. Beckman, Joshua Breslau, Erika Litvin Bloom, Michael Stephen Dunbar, Mary Lou Gilbert, David Grant, Jennifer Hawes-Dawson, Stephanie Brooks Holliday, Sarah MacCarthy, Eric R. Pedersen, Michael W. Robbins, Adam J. Rose, Jamie Ryan, Terry L. Schell, and Molly M. Simmons, Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND Corporation, RR-4228-OSD, 2021. The RAND Corporation is a research organization that develops solutions to public policy challenges to help make communities throughout the world safer and more secure, healthier and more prosperous. RAND is nonprofit, nonpartisan, and committed to the public interest. For the complete report detailing these and other findings, visit www.rand.org/t/RR4228.
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