Active-Duty Military Health Statistics


Mental health challenges in the military demand understanding and intervention. By addressing the root causes, promoting mental health awareness, and providing a supportive environment, we can help military personnel navigate trauma and build a foundation for long-term well-being. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that all Service members find the support and resources needed to heal and thrive in civilian life.

  1. Up to 35% of returning Veterans with mild brain injury also have PTSD.

During military service, individuals may face traumatic events that lead to long-term mental health problems. For example, combat events can cause traumatic brain injury (TBI). Many people who have a TBI also develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD often arises from experiences including combat exposure, sexual or physical abuse, accidents, terrorist attacks, or natural disasters. When someone experiences both PTSD and TBI, it can be difficult to sort out what’s going on.

  1. Not everyone who experiences a traumatic event develops PTSD. Approximately 10% of people who are exposed to severely traumatic events develop PTSD. There are many other factors that a health professional will take into consideration:
  • Direct Exposure: Those directly exposed to trauma as victims or witnesses face a higher risk.

  • Severity of Trauma: The severity and duration of a traumatic event contribute to the likelihood of developing PTSD.

  • Perceived Danger: Believing that oneself or a loved one is in danger during the event can intensify the impact.

  • Helplessness: Feeling powerless to help oneself or others during the trauma can be a significant factor.

  • Personal Responsibility: Blaming oneself for harm to others or feeling responsible for the traumatic event can contribute to PTSD.

  1. A higher percentage of women (10%) than men (5%) develop this serious condition. 

Depending on the level of exposure, certain groups are more prone to PTSD than others.

  1. Combat Veterans have a higher rate of PTSD (5%-25%) than military personnel not involved in combat (3%-6%), according to Army Medical Command Policy Memo 12-035.
  2. About 60% of people who die by suicide have had depression or a similar mental health problem. However, the majority of Americans who live with depression do not die by suicide.

Depression is a complex disorder with both genetic and environmental influences. It is often a result of trauma, challenging relationships, or other stressors. It's crucial to recognize the signs of depression (e.g., loss of interest in once-enjoyable activities, persistent fatigue, and thoughts of self-harm). Losses, such as the death of friends, family, or a spouse can trigger depression. Depression involves feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and, in severe cases, suicidal thoughts.

  1. The risk of suicide among recent wartime Veterans is significantly higher than that of the general U.S. population.

Suicide is a sensitive but critical aspect of mental health. Risk factors, including genetic predisposition, life experiences, social support, and illness, can contribute to suicidal thoughts. Recognizing signs and openly discussing concerns is essential for helping those in crisis and breaking mental health stigma.

  1. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 44%-72% of Veterans experience high levels of stress during the transition from military to civilian life.

Stress is an inherent part of military life, with combat being one of the most profound stressors. Effective stress management is crucial, as excessive pressure can lead to performance degradation, health issues, and strained relationships. Severe and prolonged stress can be harmful but occasional stress can have positive impacts:

  • It alerts us to dangers.

  • It stimulates us to react to situations.

  • It enables us to protect members of our unit and ourselves.

  • It helps us to achieve our personal and operational goals.

  • It helps us to work safely and effectively.

For more information on active-duty military mental health visit the QuickSeries library. In addition to mental and physical health, we also carry guides on transitioning to Civilian life and navigating various military programs.