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Research Question

  1. How do WWP Alumni fare in terms of their mental, physical, and economic well-being?

Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) provides support and raises public awareness for service members and veterans who incurred physical or mental injury, illness, or wound coincident to their military service on or after September 11, 2001, as well as their families and caregivers. Through WWP, members (Alumni) have access to programs that support four main areas of recovery — engagement, mind, body, and economic empowerment.

Using 2014 WWP Annual Alumni Survey data, RAND researchers offer a detailed analysis of how Alumni of different genders, races and ethnicities, military service histories, and service-related health conditions fare in terms of mental health, physical health, and economic well-being. The report also offers recommendations for the organization's decisionmakers to consider in setting goals and creating programs to support WWP Alumni.

Key Findings

Depression, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, and Problem Drinking Challenge WWP Alumni's Mental Health

  • More than half of all WWP Alumni screened positive for any probable depression, any probable posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or any probable problem drinking. In addition, many WWP Alumni screened positive for more than one probable mental health disorder.

Accessing Mental Health Care Is a Challenge for Many

  • More than half of the Alumni screening positive for any probable depression, any probable PTSD, or any probable problem drinking said that they had visited professionals to assist with mental health challenges.
  • Many of those in need of care had difficulty or delay getting it or simply did not get it.

Obesity Is a Health Challenge for WWP Alumni

  • The rate of overweight among WWP Alumni is higher than the rate in the general population.
  • Some subgroups of Alumni exercised less. Physicians' restrictions, fear of reinjury, and discomfort with social situations pose significant limitations for many.

Mental Health and Physical Health of WWP Alumni Are Related

  • WWP Alumni's mental health and physical health correlate on a variety of measures.

Many WWP Alumni Are Unemployed and Do Not Access Veteran Employment and Education Benefits

  • WWP Alumni cited a variety of challenges in securing or changing work.
  • Few WWP Alumni take advantage of federal veteran employment and education programs.

WWP Programs Attract Alumni with Greater Health Needs

  • Some programs draw those Alumni who report fair or poor overall health. Some programs draw Alumni with particular conditions.

Recommendations

  • Review existing capabilities or consider introducing new capabilities for identifying and referring or intervening with Alumni experiencing mental health symptoms.
  • Explore ways to help WWP Alumni overcome common barriers to obtaining mental health care.
  • Pursue a greater understanding of health needs and service preferences of WWP Alumni who might have alcohol-use problems.
  • Continue emphasizing weight maintenance and loss.
  • Increase efforts to address education and employment needs of WWP Alumni with VA disability ratings of 50 percent or greater.
  • Explore reasons WWP Alumni do not participate in the labor force.
  • Commission an objective, external evaluation of WWP programs to determine their effects on outcomes of interest.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Mental and Physical Health of Wounded Warrior Project Alumni

  • Chapter Three

    Education- and Employment-Related Outcomes

  • Chapter Four

    Recommendations

  • Appendix A

    Survey Methods, Sample Characteristics, Analysis Strategy, and Interpretation of Results

  • Appendix B

    Analyses for Chapter Two, Mental and Physical Health Outcomes

  • Appendix C

    Analyses for Chapter Three, Education and Employment Outcomes

This research was conducted within the Forces and Resources Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD).

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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