"Not Just a Job": Combat Positions and Work

Alair MacLean, Washington State University Vancouver

Previous research has shown that combat veterans tend to have worse health and to be less able to work than people who did not experience combat. Yet little is known about how later health and socioeconomic success are affected by simply serving in a combat occupation. This paper will examine how veterans who served in combat positions without experiencing combat fared in their later work lives relative to other veterans and to non-veterans according to three competing accounts: (1) skill mismatch, (2) cumulative advantage, and (3) turning point. It will also consider the possibility that any observed association between combat position and work life outcomes stems from selection. It will examine these competing accounts using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979, which contains data on military occupational specialty. The analyses will take advantage of the longitudinal nature of the data to estimate multilevel, growth curve models.

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Presented in Session 118: Military Service, Work and the Life Course