Post-9/11 veterans are dying at higher rates than Americans overall, particularly through accidents, suicide and homicide, new research has found. The numbers are even higher for veterans who have suffered a traumatic brain injury.
Veterans who have served since Sept. 11, 2001, are dying via suicide at twice the rate of Americans overall, with homicide claiming retired service members at one-and-a-half times the rate of the general population.
They also had slightly higher rates of accidental deaths, according to a study published Friday in JAMA Network Open.
The death rates were significantly higher for those with a history of traumatic brain injury: Veterans who experienced a mild traumatic brain injury died at nearly twice the general rate for accidents from 2002 to 2018 and three times the rate by suicide, while those with moderate to severe brain injuries were five times as likely to die by suicide and faced a threefold risk of being murdered or dying in an accident.
The study is the first to look at "excess deaths" among veterans who have served since Sept. 11, 2001, examining the number of deaths over and above what normally would have been expected during the 17-year study period.
The researchers, led by Jeffrey Howard, an associate professor of public health at the University of Texas at San Antonio, reviewed records of more than 2.5 million post-9/11 veterans to catalog their long-term health outcomes with a focus on those with a history of a brain injury.