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Title: Invisible Wounds of War: The Effect of Military Service on Mental Health
Authors: Liang, Yahui “Ellis”
Advisors: Grossman, Jean
Department: Economics
Class Year: 2015
Abstract: Mental health disorders have afflicted veterans at alarming rates, giving rise to a growing body of literature on the relationship between military service and mental health. This study is one of the first to use a longitudinal dataset to explore this relationship for veterans who have served during the Gulf War or later conflicts. Utilizing information from two waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) dataset and a comparison group of civilians, we examine how different aspects of military service affect depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicidal ideations. We find that months served in active duty, months in combat, and number of firefights by themselves do not have a significant correlation with mental health. Instead, it is experiencing psycho-traumatic events, like killing someone or being wounded, that worsens mental health. We then gather qualitative evidence by interviewing three psychologists who research or treat veterans. Their statements support our main conclusion and introduce factors that affect mental health that were excluded in the Add Health questionnaire. From our quantitative and qualitative findings, we propose a few policy recommendations that could help mitigate the prevalence of mental disorders in the military.
Extent: 79 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Economics, 1927-2016

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