Study: Female Veterans Endure Greater Health Woes

Washington Report

(November 7, 2017) Women who have served in uniform may think they are in good health, but they suffer physical and mental-health problems at a rate greater than women overall, according to a study released last week by the Military Officers Association of America.

The 2017 America’s Health Rankings Health of Women Who Served Report, which MOAA did in partnership with United Health Foundation, found that 56.4 percent of women who have served in uniform consider their health to be very good or excellent. That figure is 50.8 percent for women who are not veterans.

However, female veterans have a 16 percent higher rate of depression diagnoses than their civilian counterparts and two times as many admit to suicidal thoughts in the past year. They also have a 16 percent higher rater of arthritis, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

The study found differences in race and ethnicity. For example, Asian women who are veterans have a 75 percent higher likelihood to have diabetes than Asian women who have not been in the military, 14.4 percent to 8.2 percent.

The report analyzes 23 health measures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and National Health Interview Survey, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The measures include indicators of behaviors, health outcomes, clinical care, community and environment, and policy.

The research builds on the America’s Health Rankings Health of Those Who Have Served Report released in 2016. That report examined how the health and health-care experiences of both men and women who have served differ from their civilian counterparts across a wide range of key health indicators.

“This report shows that women remain resilient after leaving the military, yet too many face significant health issues directly related to their time in service,” said retired Lt. Gen. Patty Horoho, the CEO of OptumServe, UnitedHealth Group’s military-health-services business, and a former Army surgeon general. “The new insights gleaned from this report demand innovations to address the unique, profound needs of women who have selflessly served.”