Objectives: The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is adapting to a new model of care in the wake of the Veterans Choice Act of 2014. A longitudinal study, The Veterans Metrics Initiative, captured multiple domains of psychosocial health and healthcare use as veterans moved through the first 15 months of transition from military to civilian life. This study examined gender differences and clinical, social, and lifestyle correlates in healthcare use. Study Design: The multiwave web-based survey collected self-reported measures from a national sample of newly separated military veterans. Methods: Multivariable analysis weighted to represent the sampling frame and account for attrition at follow-up examined the association between gender and self-reported healthcare utilization overall and in the VHA. Results: In fall 2016, veterans within approximately 90 days post military separation provided baseline data and completed a follow-up survey a year later, representing a cohort of 49,865. Sleep problems, anxiety, and depression were associated with healthcare use for both men and women following transition. Women were twice as likely as men to use healthcare in general but equally likely to use VHA care. For women veterans, unstable housing at separation was associated with less healthcare use a year later, especially for the subgroup with mental/behavioral health issues. Conclusions: US veterans separating from military service need expert care, both in the VHA and elsewhere, for anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbance. Women veterans may be underserved by the VHA and may benefit from housing assistance programs to enable ongoing healthcare use.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health Policy