Intergenerational Effects of Military Service
The psychological effects of military service on war veterans have been documented extensively, but much less is known about how it affects the long-term mental health of their families and their children in particu-lar. This is a significant shortcoming in light of the large-scale and ongoing deployment of military personnel from the US and allied nations since the start of the “War on Terror”.
Using the results of a landmark, retrospective study of the families of men who served in the Australian army during the Vietnam War (1965-1972), we investigated the long-term, psychological impact of their war service on their adult children. Results indicate that 40 years after the end of the Vietnam War, the adult children of Vietnam Veterans are more likely to have been diagnosed with anxiety and depression and more likely to have had thoughts of suicide and self-harm than the children of comparable army personnel. They were also more likely to have died by suicide. We discuss the implications of these findings for research and policy concerning the effects of military service on families.
About the Presenter
Walter Forrest is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology in the School of Social Sciences and a Faculty Fellow at the Institute for Social Science Research. His research focuses on the life course consequences of family relation-ships, especially among disadvantaged groups.
He is particularly interested in family relationships and the life course in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs) and the effects of war, violence, and hazardous employment on families. His research has been published in journals such as PLOS One, Journal of Marriage and Family, and Criminology.