FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 22, 2013

KDHE Office of Communications
communications@kdheks.gov, 785-296-0461


KDHE Reports on Health of Kansas Veterans

Veterans Health Is Often Different than Civilians

TOPEKA, Kan.—Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) today released a report on the health of Kansans Veterans. The review of 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data shows many differences in health conditions between veterans and civilians and between younger veterans (18 - 64 years old) and older veterans (65 years old and older). Veterans are defined as those who reported they had ever served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, either in the regular military or in a National Guard or military reserve unit.

“I encourage health care providers to use the information in this report to be informed of the increased health risks for veterans and provide appropriate advice and support to these individuals, including referrals to many of the support systems available for our veterans,” said Robert Moser, M.D., Secretary and State Health Officer, Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE).

The data show that younger veterans are more diverse than older veterans. Younger veterans are less likely to be non-Hispanic white and more likely to be female. Younger veterans had a higher prevalence of having health care coverage but also had a higher prevalence of many health issues including overweight/obesity, disability, depression, hypertension, coronary heart disease, diabetes and heart attack than civilians 18 - 64 years old.

The health differences between senior veterans (65 and older) and senior civilians were much less pronounced. Senior veterans had a higher prevalence of the following conditions: cancer, coronary heart disease, diabetes, heart attack, overweight/obesity and stroke as compared to senior civilians.

More veterans 18 - 64 years old were diagnosed with depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as compared to senior veterans. The percentage of veterans who have received psychological or psychiatric treatment in the past year was more than three times higher among younger veterans as compared to senior veterans.

“This report shows that many veterans are using the health and mental health services available to them,” said Moser. “We encourage all veterans to use these services to maintain and improve their health.”
As the battles in which the U.S. is involved move around the world, the challenges, skills, demands and risks to which veterans must adapt continue to change as well. Improving veterans’ health depends on the ability to describe veterans’ health risks and understand what prevention strategies and resources to choose. This report is a first step at describing the health of this population in Kansas. To view the full report visit http://www.kdheks.gov/brfss/PDF/Veterans_Report_2013.pdf.