As part of its efforts to provide programs and services that meet the changing needs of veterans, Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) conducts an annual survey of service members who have sustained combat-related injuries. Now in its ninth year, WWP’s Annual Warrior Survey collects data on respondents’ physical and mental health, employment, health care options, and day-to-day challenges and successes.
The results of the most recent Warrior Survey were released during a special panel discussion held at The Brookings Institution in December 2018. Keep reading for an overview of the top takeaways that WWP will use to guide future programming.
About the Survey Respondents
In conducting its ninth Annual Warrior Survey, WWP reached out to over 98,000 of its veteran members between March 20 and May 14, 2018. The efforts resulted in completed surveys from 33,067 respondents, which is the largest group since the survey was first conducted in 2010.
Among those who completed the survey, 83.5 percent were men with an average age of just under 40 years old. The majority of respondents, (66.6 percent) were Caucasian followed by Hispanics (18.5 percent) and African Americans (14 percent). Other races/ethnicities represented in the survey included American Indians or Alaskan Natives (5.3 percent), Asians (3.6 percent), and Native Hawaiians or Pacific Islanders (1.7 percent).
Of the respondents, only 6.4 percent reported that they are currently enlisted in the military while nearly half (45.3 percent) stated that they were deployed three or more times during their military career. Over three-quarters of the respondents also reported that their previous military experience continues to affect their day-to-day lives in adverse ways.
Physical and Mental Well-Being
One of the biggest takeaways from WWP’s 9th Annual Warrior Survey is that over 78 percent of respondents stated that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is their main health challenge. The other most commonly self-reported injuries and health effects from the survey included sleep problems (75.4 percent); back, neck, and shoulder issues (73.7 percent); and depression (70.3 percent). Over 32 percent of respondents reported that they required at least some assistance from another person because of their injuries or health issues, and approximately one-quarter of respondents stated that they needed 40 hours or more of assistance each week.
In addition to assessing their mental and physical health issues, the Annual Warrior Survey questioned respondents about how their health affects their daily activities. More than 7 out 10 of the warriors surveyed reported that their health limits them at least somewhat in their daily activities, and over 80 percent stated that they aren’t as productive as they’d like to be due to their physical health or emotional problems. The majority (89.8 percent) of those reporting physical injuries or emotional problems also stated that their health issues adversely affect their social activities with family and friends.
Access to Care
Fortunately, over 75 percent of respondents reported having health insurance through the VA. The number represents a steady increase over previous years. More than two-thirds of those with VA insurance stated that the organization is their primary health care provider. While one-third of the respondents stated that they had problems accessing physical and behavioral health care services through the VA, most of the reported issues were related to scheduling conflicts.
Social Support Snapshot
Along with obtaining care through the VA and other organizations, many veterans with mental and/or physical health issues benefit from the ongoing support of family and friends. In fact, over 80 percent of respondents to the Warrior Survey stated that they had people in their lives who are available to help when they need them.
Many warriors who took part in the survey also cited how beneficial it was for them to interact with other veterans, particularly those who share similar experiences related to post-9/11 military service. In addition to promoting social integration, these interactions helped veterans to address the mental health issues that they dealt with on a regular basis. Over 52 percent of the survey respondents stated that they relied on other veterans as a source for improving their well-being. Many of the respondents also used the survey comment section to encourage WWP to provide more opportunities for these types of interactions.
Building on Successes Going Forward
In addition to demonstrating that many veterans benefit from a strong social network, the results of WWP’s Warrior Survey highlighted other veterans’ successes that are worth celebrating. For one, the survey showed that the number of veterans with a bachelor’s degree or higher continues to increase. Approximately one-quarter of survey respondents reported being currently enrolled in a higher education program, and over 70 percent of them are pursuing bachelor’s, master’s, or professional/doctorate degrees.
Beyond their efforts to attain additional education, more warriors are finding employment. While there are still barriers that make it difficult for some to get a job, the unemployment rate among veterans has dropped considerably in recent years. Improved employment numbers are also translating to a higher percentage of homeowners. Among the veterans who responded to the survey, 60 percent reported that they are homeowners. This represents a 14 percent increase since 2014.
Currently, WWP is using the takeaways from its ninth Annual Warrior Survey to better meet the needs of the veterans and military families that it serves. To learn about how you can advance WWP’s mission, visit www.woundedwarriorproject.org.
Disclaimer: This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. This information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy or validity of any statements or information provided on this website. Do not rely on this information as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or another professional healthcare provider. You should seek immediate medical attention if you think you are suffering from a medical condition. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.