In U.S., Veterans Report Less Stress, Worry Than Civilians

Justin McCarthy | Gallup Well-Being | July 1, 2014

Retired veterans have even lower levels than discharged veterans

Americans may understandably believe that the nation's veterans are suffering emotionally given news reports of high levels of post-traumatic stress disorder and other mood or anxiety disorders among those who have served in the military. However, Gallup finds that among employed Americans, active-duty and veteran populations are more emotionally resilient than their civilian counterparts.

Gallup analyzed the responses of active-duty service members and working Americans who have served in the military -- including discharged veterans and retired veterans -- as well as civilians on a number of questions designed to assess emotional well-being, such as levels of stress and worry. The results are reported separately among 18- to 44-year-olds and 45- to 64-year-olds, given the strong relationship of age to emotional well-being, and the fact that a far greater number of older than younger Americans have served in the military.

In terms of daily stress, active-duty service members aged 18 to 44 are least likely to report experiencing stress (39%) among working Americans in their age group, followed by retired veterans (42%), discharged veterans (46%), and civilians (46%). Stress is lower among older workers in each service group, with active-duty members aged 45 to 64 reporting the least stress of all subgroups, at 25%.  The large majority of active-duty service members are 18 to 44 years old, but those who stay in the military longer and reach the 45-to-64 age group fare best in emotional well-being. This suggests that those who serve the longest could be poised to have the least stress...