Psychosocial Risk Factors and Other Than Honorable Military Discharge: Providing Healthcare to Previously Ineligible Veterans.
INTRODUCTION: In response to a strong focus on suicide prevention for all veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently revised policy to provide emergency mental healthcare for veterans who received Other Than Honorable (OTH) discharges from the military. This current study takes a preliminary step toward identifying demographic, historic, military, clinical, and social characteristics of veterans with OTH discharges. MATERIALS AND METHODS: N = 1,172 Iraq/Afghanistan-era veterans were evaluated between 2005 and 2016 in the multi-site VA Mid-Atlantic Mental Illness, Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC) Study of Post-Deployment Mental Health (PDMH Study). RESULTS: Veterans with OTH discharges constituted 2.7% of our sample, approximating the estimated rate in the overall U.S. veteran population. Compared to veterans discharged under honorable conditions, veterans with OTH discharges were more likely to be younger and have greater odds of reporting family history of drug abuse and depression. Further, veterans with OTH discharges reported a lower level of social support and were more likely to be single, endorse more sleep problems, score higher on measures of drug misuse, have a history of incarceration, and meet diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder. A subsequent matching analysis provided further evidence of the association between OTH discharge and two risk factors: drug misuse and incarceration. CONCLUSION: These findings elucidate potential factors associated with veterans with OTH discharges, particularly substance abuse and criminal justice involvement. Results also indicate higher incidence of risk factors that often accompany suicidal ideation and should be a highlighted component of healthcare delivery to this vulnerable cohort of veterans.
Elbogen, EB; Wagner, HR; Brancu, M; Kimbrel, NA; Naylor, JC; Swinkels, CM; VA Mid-Atlantic MIRECC Workgroup, ; Fairbank, JA
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