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Research Question

  1. Are there any well-designed, ongoing surveys that are able to track the trajectory of reintegration and related problems faced by post-9/11 veterans?

Federal agencies, researchers, and veterans' advocacy groups have issued imperatives highlighting important gaps in our knowledge of the trajectory of reintegration and related problems faced by post-9/11 veterans. There are a number of ongoing surveys that can be used to address the needs of post-9/11 veterans, but no comparative information exists that assesses the strengths and weaknesses of these efforts. To that end, this report documents the results of a review of the survey research landscape examining post-9/11 veterans. The authors limited their search to repeated surveys because surveys conducted in an ongoing way can provide rich information about the trajectory of veterans' well-being over time. This review provides a comprehensive look at nationally representative and repeated surveys of post-9/11 U.S. military veterans. The authors identified 11 surveys as having sufficient sample sizes of post-9/11 veterans and robust sampling procedures. This information should be useful to researchers and policymakers interested in the breadth, quality, and representativeness of research on post-9/11 veterans that shows the trajectory of these individuals' reintegration into civilian life.

Key Findings

There Are 11 Nationally Representative and Repeated Surveys of Post-9/11 U.S. Veterans

  • All identified surveys were funded through federal agencies.
  • Seven surveys were repeated cross-sectional surveys, one was a longitudinal survey, and three were overlapping panel surveys.
  • Four surveys were focused specifically on sampling veteran populations, while the other seven surveys sampled the civilian population more broadly. Three of the four veteran-focused surveys had veteran health outcomes as their primary research questions, while the fourth focused on veteran service utilization.
  • Many of these surveys, particularly those aimed specifically at veteran populations, can be used to examine issues related to the veteran transition to civilian life at one point in time or over multiple points. Because of their cross-sectional nature, however, these surveys are not able to examine how individual veterans fare over time in their transition to civilian life.
  • There is no longitudinal or overlapping panel survey that specifically examines issues uniquely relevant to the transition to civilian life for post-9/11 veterans and related outcomes.

This research in the public interest was funded by philanthropic contributions from RAND supporters and income from operations and conducted by RAND Labor and Population.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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