VA Health Care Use among Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans
About 55% of newly eligible Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, or Operation New Dawn (OEF/OIF/OND) Veterans chose to use VA health care services between 2002 and 2010, according to researchers looking at patterns in VA health care use.
This result is from an Epidemiology Program, Office of Public Health study on OEF/OIF/OND Veterans who used VA health care services between 2002 and 2010. More key findings include:
- A total of 1,234,965 OEF/OIF/OND Veterans became eligible for VA health care between 2002 and 2010. Those who chose to use VA services accounted for approximately 18 million health care visits.
- Each year since 2005, about 140,000 new Veterans have become eligible to receive VA health care. Between 50-60% of each year’s newly eligible group chooses to use VA health care.
- The proportion of Veterans seeking health care increased as the cumulative time deployed increased.
- Veterans who served in the “combat” or “logistics” occupational groups were more likely to use VA health care than Veterans who served in other occupational groups. Those who had served in a health care occupation were also high users of VA health care.
- Army and Marine Corps Veterans were more likely to use VA health care than Veterans who served in the Navy, Air Force, or Coast Guard. This may be a reflection of more direct exposure to combat situations.
- A high percentage of Veterans who used VA health care did so within 180 days of eligibility, a time period in which Veterans are still eligible for TRICARE – 50.6% among Active Duty Veterans and 39.4% among Reserve/National Guard Veterans.
More about this study is available on the VA Office of Public Health website at http://www.publichealth.va.gov/epidemiology/reports/oefoifond/health-care-utilization/initial-health-care.asp . The study abstract can be found at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25826341.