WASHINGTON - Ahead of the 18th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks on America, the Pew Research Center is out with a new report detailing the experiences of veterans who served after the attacks.
The major finding of the report is that the experiences have been markedly different from veterans who served in earlier eras.
About three-quarters of post-9/11 veterans deployed at least once during their military service. That's compared to 58% of veterans who served before them.
Where they served is different too, with post-9/11 veterans about twice as likely to have served in a combat zone.
The findings of the report, which based on two surveys, show that roughly half post-9/11 veterans had "emotionally traumatic or distressing experiences" related to their military service.
Many also told researchers that the military prepared them to serve, but found the transition to civilian life was more difficult than their predecessors.
The Pew Research Center also released these summarized key findings:
• Two-thirds of post-9/11 veterans who were deployed at least once say being deployed had a positive impact on their financial situation (compared with 30% of pre-9/11 veterans). At the same time, 42% of post-9/11 veterans – but only 17% of pre-9/11 veterans – say being deployed had a negative impact on their mental health.
• About a third of veterans (35%) say they knew and served with someone who was seriously injured in combat while performing their duties; 30% knew and served with someone who was killed in combat. Among combat veterans, 57% say they personally witnessed someone from their unit or an ally unit being seriously wounded or killed.
• Veterans who say they have suffered from post-traumatic stress are much more likely than those who have not to report certain negative experiences in the first few years after leaving the military. Roughly six-in-ten (61%) say they had trouble paying their bills, 42% say they had trouble getting medical care for themselves or their families, and 41% say they struggled with alcohol or substance abuse.
• Even amid these challenges, many veterans report positive outcomes related to their combat experience. Majorities of combat veterans say their experiences in combat made them feel closer to those who served alongside them, showed them that they were stronger than they thought they were, and changed their priorities about what was important in their life.
• Most veterans (73%) say they have received benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. When asked to assess the job the VA is doing meeting the needs of veterans, 46% of all veterans say the VA is doing an excellent or good job in this regard.