Veterans

Is Longer Military Service Beneficial To Veterans' Health?

Research by the University of Glasgow suggests those with a long period of service in the Armed Forces have a reduced risk of early death.

Veterans with a long period of service in the Armed Forces have a reduced risk of early death, according to a new study.

The University of Glasgow has conducted the research, which looked at the long-term risk of mortality in all veterans living in Scotland who served between 1960 and 2012, compared with people who had never served in the Armed Forces.

For those who spend longer in employment, there is a general pattern showing they are at lower risk of early death.

However, few studies have looked at whether this applies to military service.

Anonymous British soldier.
There is a general pattern showing that those who spend longer in employment are at lower risk of early death (Picture: Crown Copyright).

In the study, overall, there was no difference in risk between the veterans and non-veterans, but people who served for more than 12 years had an 18% reduced risk of death compared to non-veterans of the same age.

People with the shortest service had a 15% higher risk of early death but there was no difference between these veterans and non-veterans, if social and economic circumstances which can reduce life expectancy were taken into account. 

Veterans who died were 18% more likely to have had a smoking-related health condition than non-veterans.

Anonymous British soldier.
In the study, people who served for more than 12 years had an 18% reduced risk of death compared to non-veterans of the same age (Picture: Crown Copyright).

Lead researcher Dr Beverly Bergman said: "This is an important study which provides further reassurance that longer military service is beneficial to health.

"It confirms our earlier studies which show that smoking has had a major influence on veterans’ health.

"It also shows that some of the poorer outcomes in early service leavers may be due to socio-economic circumstances after discharge."

The study, which used data from the Scottish Veterans Health Study, is published in Occupational Medicine.