Veterans – permanent, reserve and ex-serving members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) – and their families are an important population group for health and welfare monitoring. The unique nature of ADF service promotes protective factors that can lead to improved health outcomes but also exposes members to risk factors that may lead to poor health during and after their military service.
Veterans’ health and welfare encompasses the needs of all current and former members of the permanent/regular and reserve Australian Defence Force, regardless of operational (deployment) experience or length of service.
Service in the Australian Defence Force confers both unique protective factors, through medical, physical and psychological selection, training and support (institutional and cultural), and risk factors, including exposure to physical and psychological injury, trauma, and potential death.
Analyses of the health and welfare of this unique population group serves to identify and enumerate outcomes of specific exposures and provide a strong evidence base for preventive and treatment activities and services.
The AIHW has a long-standing role in studies relating to the health and welfare of veterans, ranging from data linking, data management and data holdings, to detailed analysis and reporting.
Veterans’ health studies in which the AIHW has undertaken analysis or reporting include those relating to:
- specific conflicts, such as in Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf War
- particular job roles and exposures, such as F-111 Deseal/Reseal personnel
- condition or outcome-specific analyses, such as suicide death or cancer incidence.
Serving permanent and reserve males are about half as likely to die by suicide as Australian males
Ex-serving males who separate voluntarily have a similar rate of suicide to Australian males
Veterans were more likely to volunteer (19%) than people who had never served in the ADF (14%)
Nearly 1 in 10 (9.4%) veterans were socially isolated. This was similar to people who had never served in the ADF (11%)
Male veterans generally had lower rates of age-specific all-cause mortality than Australian males
Ex-serving ADF females were 1.4 times more likely to hold a bachelor degree or higher than Australian females