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Military service and men's health trajectories in later life.

Research paper by Janet M JM Wilmoth, Andrew S AS London, Wendy M WM Parker

Indexed on: 25 Sep '10Published on: 25 Sep '10Published in: The journals of gerontology. Series B, Psychological sciences and social sciences



Abstract

This study examines differences in the relationship between veteran status and men's trajectories of health conditions, activities of daily living limitations, and self-rated health.We use data on 12,631 men drawn from the 1992-2006 waves of the Health and Retirement Study to estimate growth curve models that examine differences in health trajectories between nonveterans and veterans, veterans with and without wartime service, and war service veterans who served during World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and multiple wars.The results indicate that veterans have better health at the mean age of 66.2 years, but experience greater age-related changes in health than nonveterans. Similarly, men who served during wartime have better health at the mean age, but more age-related changes in health than men who did not serve during wartime. Among war veterans, Vietnam veterans are in poorer health at the mean age, but they experience less substantial age-related health changes than men who served during previous wars.Although veterans experience better health relative to nonveterans around retirement age, they have poorer health than nonveterans among the oldest old. These findings inform our understanding of the veteran-nonveteran health-mortality paradox found in previous research and suggest a health crossover among veterans and nonveterans in later life.