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Sociologist finds combat veterans face more lifelong socioeconomic challenges
Date:8/2/2010

WASHINGTON, DC, August 2, 2010 From the many images sent home from foreign battlefields over the last several decades, Americans have viewed the plight of their country's combat-weary veterans as stark and often iconic scenes that seem somehow frozen in time. But recent research at Washington State University (WSU) suggests that, for many U.S. veterans, combat is a defining experience that often sets the trajectory of the balance of their lives.

In research published in the August 2010 issue of the American Sociological Review (ASR), Alair MacLean, an assistant professor with the Department of Sociology at WSU Vancouver, reports that in comparison to both non-veterans and veterans who never engaged in combat, Americans returning from combat face significant socioeconomic challenges, as evidenced by consistently higher rates of disability and unemployment.

"Veterans who saw combat started their work lives at a relative disadvantage that they were unable to overcome," MacLean said. "Soldiers exposed to combat were more likely than non-combat veterans to be disabled and unemployed in their mid-20s and to remain so throughout their worklife."

Using data taken from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, a longitudinal survey of families and individuals which has been conducted annually since 1968, MacLean studied the characteristics of both veterans and non-veterans who would have been between the ages of 25 and 55 in any year between 1968 and 2003. The sample included men who served or otherwise would have become eligible for military service during World War II, as well as during the Korean, post-Korean, Viet Nam, and post-Viet Nam eras.

MacLean said the rate at which both non-veterans and non-combat veterans reported themselves to be disabled remained fairly consistent at roughly 10 percent of the population in each of the years reviewed by the study.

"Compared with these two groups of men, combat veterans were di
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Contact: Daniel Fowler
fowler@asanet.org
202-527-7885
American Sociological Association
Source:Eurekalert

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