Trends in mental health outcomes and combat exposure among US marines returning from Iraq, Afghanistan or other deployments, 2004-13
Morgan, J. K., Levin-Rector, A., Van Dorn, R. A., Trudeau, J., Hourani, L. L., Cartwright, J. K., & Lattimore, P. K. (2018). Trends in mental health outcomes and combat exposure among US marines returning from Iraq, Afghanistan or other deployments, 2004-13. Journal of Public Health, [fdy078]. DOI: 10.1093/pubmed/fdy078
Background: As of 2015, more than 2.7 million US military Veterans have served in support of the Global War on Terror. The negative sequelae associated with deployment stressors and related traumas are well-documented. Although data on mental health issues are routinely collected from service members returning from deployment, these data have not been made publicly available, leaving researchers and clinicians to rely on convenience samples, outdated studies and small sample sizes.
Methods: Population-based data of US Marines returning from deployment between 2004 and 2013 were analyzed, using the Post-Deployment Health Assessment.
Results: Rates of Marines returning from Iraq who screened positive for depression ranged from 19.31 to 30.02%; suicidal ideation ranged from 0 to 1.44%. Marines screening positive for PTSD ranged from 3.00 to 12.41%; combat exposure ranged from 15.58 to 55.12%. Depression was indicated for between 12.54 and 30.04% of Marines returning from Afghanistan, while suicidal ideation ranged from 0 to 5.33%. PTSD percentages ranged from 6.64 to 18.18%; combat exposure ranged between 42.92 and 75%.
Conclusion: Our results support the heterogeneity of experiences and mental health sequelae of service members returning from deployments. Outcomes for Afghanistan and Iraq Veterans fluctuate with changes in OPTEMPO across theaters over time.