Military personnel are more likely to be victims of childhood abuse or have grown up in violent family and community situations than nonmilitary counterparts, reveals a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Researchers say joining a military organization is likely viewed as a refuge for those needing to escape troubled home lives and the data findings may help military organizations deal with personnel with suicidal tendencies.
The study notes, however, the findings are preliminary and the results of analysis of a 2010 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.
"We don't know anything about whether or not these early life adversities are actually impacting the health of service members," said co-author John Blosnich of the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System. Future research should explore such questions, he noted.
Researcher Robert Bossarte, lead author, said the results "leads to a lot of additional questions." Bossarte is the director of the epidemiology program of the post-deployment health group in the Department of Veterans Affairs' Office of Public Health, and an expert on suicide prevention.
The researchers say further investigation is needed to make any connection between those who grew up with severe childhood abuse and military suicide rates.
The study involved analyzing surveys completed by 60,000 participants. Researchers say the results indicate that those joining the military were more likely to have had more stressful and abusive childhood experiences than those who did not join a military organization. The trend is much more prevalent among males, say researchers.
"One explanation may be that because men tend to be the perpetrators of interpersonal violence against women, women survivors may not view the military, an institution comprised mostly of men, to be a safe option," the study said.
The study, according to one news report, is the largest to examine how common bad childhood experiences are among military men and women.