In the context of increasing concerns for the health of UK armed forces veterans, this study aims to compare the prevalence of current mental, physical and behavioural difficulties in conscripted national service veterans with population controls, and to assess the impact of length of service in the military. The compulsory nature of national service sets these veterans apart from younger veterans.
Data are drawn from a nationally representative community-dwelling sample of England. We compared 484 male national service veterans to 301 male non-veterans aged 65+ years.
There were no differences in mental, behavioural or physical outcomes, except that veterans were less likely to have “any mental disorder” than non-veterans (age adjusted OR = 0.56, 95% CI 0.31, 0.99). Longer serving veterans were older but were not different in terms of mental, behavioural or physical outcomes.
Community-dwelling national service veterans are at no greater risk of current adverse mental, physical or behavioural health than population controls.