Military service is difficult, demanding and dangerous. But returning to civilian life also poses challenges for the men and women who have served in the armed forces, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey of 1,853 veterans. While more than seven-in-ten veterans (72%) report they had an easy time readjusting to civilian life, 27% say re-entry was difficult for them — a proportion that swells to 44% among veterans who served in the ten years since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Veterans who say they had an emotionally traumatic experience while serving or had suffered a serious service-related injury were significantly more likely to report problems with re-entry.

The lingering consequences of a suffering a psychological trauma are particularly striking: The likelihood of an easy re-entry drop from 82% — for those who did not experience a traumatic event — to 56% for those who did. This 26 percentage point decline is the largest change — positive or negative — recorded in the study.

In addition, those who served in a combat zone and or knew someone who was killed or injured face steeper odds of an easy re-entry. It is worth nothing that veterans who served in the post-9/11 period report more difficulties returning to civilian life than those who served in Vietnam or the Korean War/World War II era. Read More