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20% US Soldiers Had Psychological Disorders Before Enlisting in Military

A group of studies published Monday revealed that more than 20% of all US soldiers had psychological disorders before enlisting in the military. Those disorders, such as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), have been commonly attributed to active duty in the military and exposure to combat in the past. The increase in mental illness and commonality of these disorders continue to increase even though our military engagement has decreased prompting a closer look by mental health professionals.

As noted in the published findings, “mental disorders are the leading cause of US military morbidity”.

1 in 5 US Soldiers Had Psychological Disorders Prior to Enlisting In Military

US Army Purple heart

Photo By The U.S. Army (Dagger Soldiers earn Purple Heart) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The number of hospital sick days due to mental disorders doubled between 2006 and 2010 which had been initially widely attributed to the prolonged conflict in Afghanistan. A closer analysis of the increase in suicide rates and attempts revealed that almost 1/3 of all enlisted soldiers suicide attempts originated from pre-enlistment disorders.

8 Most Common Psychological Disorders Commonly Associated with Military Service

Internal Disorders

  • MDD
  • BPD
  • GAD
  • PD
  • PTSD

Externalizing Disorders

  • ADHD
  • IED
  • SUD

The results of this report published by JAMA and Army STARRS (Army Study to Asses Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers) warrants increased psychological testing for potential military recruits prior to enlistment.

Externalized and Internalized type of disorders do exist in the general population, researchers found that with externalizing disorders the numbers are much higher in the military than in civilian population groups or the general public.  Internalized disorders where found to be slightly higher in women soldiers. Being married in the service may even increase psychological disorders thought to arise from the stress involved with separation.

The results of this groundbreaking study minimally recommend that recruiters be more thorough in screening for common psychological disorders prior to enlistment. Besides the expansion of screening efforts for potential recruits the study also recommends more treatment and outreach programs for soldiers mental health to reduce risk factors of these potentially dangerous disorders.

Age, gender, ethnicity, marital status, rank, and deployment status were all factors analyzed in this study, yet the results show overall that the 8 most common psychological disorders are widely prevalent in all groups prior to enlistment.


20% US Soldiers Had Psychological Disorders Before Enlisting in Military.

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