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Landes, London, Wilmoth article on service-connected disability published in Armed Forces & Society

Aug 4, 2021

Service-Connected Disability and the Veteran Mortality Disadvantage

Scott D. Landes, Andrew S. London & Janet M. Wilmoth

Armed Forces & Society, November 2019

Scott Landes

Scott Landes


Andrew S. London

Andrew S. London


Janet M. Wilmoth

Janet M. Wilmoth


Research consistently reports a veteran mortality disadvantage relative to nonveterans, but has not considered the contribution of service-connected disability to this differential.

This study uses data from the 1986 and 1989 National Health Interview Survey-2011 Linked Mortality Files (N = 124,122) to estimate multivariate Cox regression models of the association between veteran status and mortality, taking service-connected disability status into account. Bivariate analyses demonstrate higher mortality risk, lower socioeconomic status, and poorer health and functioning among veterans with a service-connected disability than among nonveterans and veterans without a service-connected disability. Multivariate models confirm a mortality disadvantage for all veteran service-connected disability subgroups, which is reduced by the inclusion of exogenous sociodemographic variables and substantially mediated by the health/functional limitation status measures.

Results indicate that service-connected disability status accounts for some variation in, and may have a cumulative effect on, the veteran mortality disadvantage. When possible, future research should account for service-connected disability status when studying veteran–nonveteran mortality differentials.

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