Post-High School Military Enlistment and Long-Term Well-Being


Lucier-Greer, Mallory; O’Neal, Catherine W.; Peterson, Clairee; Reed-Fitzke, Kayla; & Wickrama, K.A.S. (2022). Post-High School Military Enlistment and Long-Term Well-Being. Emerging Adulthood.


Longitudinal data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health were used to evaluate the impact of post-high school military enlistment during emerging adulthood. Comparisons were made between matched samples of emerging adults who enlisted in the military (n = 576) and their civilian counterparts (n = 576) on well-being over a decade later. Well-being was broadly conceptualized to reflect socioeconomic well-being, physical health, mental health, and risky lifestyle behaviors. Matching maximizes confidence that findings reflect differences due to enlistment, rather than pre-existing characteristics that contribute to both enlistment rates and well-being. No consistent differences emerged between the matched samples. Service members reported some indicators of better mental health (perceived stress, anxiety), yet higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis, and civilians reported some indicators of better physical health. Strengths-based perspectives and models that account for the concurrent possibility that military service may positively and negatively impact well-being are needed in future research.




Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

Emerging Adulthood


Lucier-Greer, Mallory
O’Neal, Catherine W.
Peterson, Clairee
Reed-Fitzke, Kayla
Wickrama, K.A.S.

Year Published




Reference ID