Military Life Course


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Military service has profound effects on health and well-being across the lifespan. On the one hand, veterans are a select population, having been selected for good health (i.e., the “healthy soldier” effect). On the other hand, they have been exposed to conditions that can have varied effects, in both the long- and short-term. These potential effects, both positive and negative, can be evidenced in multiple domains of functioning — in physical and mental health, or in social and economic relations – in later life. Because military experience was common among those born in the first third of the 20th century, and they are now in their later years, military service seems to be a “hidden variable” that lurks beneath much of our knowledge of aging, especially in men.

We believe there is an urgent need to promote a more integrative, multidisciplinary approach to the long-term dynamic interplay across the lifespan between risk and protective factors resulting from military service. Such long-term outcomes are less often studied than the more proximal (and typically negative) ones, such as the concerns with PTSD and traumatic brain injury among veterans of recent wars (IOM, 2013). Thus, our objective is to advance a lifespan, multidisciplinary study of the long-term effects of military service on health and well-being in later life. We believe that taking such a view provides a far more accurate and useful understanding of the myriad effects of military service, both for past and for future generations of veterans.

The purpose of this website is to provide greater information about aging and military service. We include links to large, publicly available databases that have some information on the military history of older participants in studies on health and well-being. We also provide information on upcoming conferences and more details on our forthcoming book, as available.