Military Service, Violence, and Race


Robey, Jason; Massoglia, Michael; & Warner, Avery (2022). Military Service, Violence, and Race. American Society of Criminology Annual Meeting. Atlanta, GA.


Military experience and training normalize the use of violence in the operation of the state. However, few studies examine the implications of the normalization of violence among military members. We investigate how military involvement impacts violence after veterans return home, which also affects their communities. We analyze evidence at both the individual and state-level. At the individual level, we use the Add Health dataset to explore trends in violence over the life course. At the state-level we use data from the Census and Uniform Crime Reports (UCR). Preliminary findings at the individual level demonstrate a cycle of violence. Individuals who are violent in adolescence are more likely to enlist in the military later in life, suggesting positive selection into the military. After returning home, veterans who directly engaged in combat with enemy forces are more likely to engage in violence in their communities, even after controlling for their violence prior to enlistment. We also find preliminary evidence that these individual level effects aggregate to social inequalities in crime exposure. In both 1980 and 2018, states with higher proportions of veterans have higher crime rates. Overall, our findings suggest the normalization of violence in the military contributes to violence in communities.


Reference Type

Conference proceeding

Book Title

American Society of Criminology Annual Meeting


Robey, Jason
Massoglia, Michael
Warner, Avery

Year Published


City of Publication

Atlanta, GA

Reference ID