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Financial status and well-being in recently separated military veterans

APA Citation:

Elbogen, E. B., Zeber, J. E., Vogt, D., Perkins, D. F., Finley, E. P., & Copeland, L. A. (2022). Financial status and well-being in recently separated military veterans. Military Medicine, usac030. https://doi.org/10.1093/milmed/usac030

Abstract Created by REACH:

This longitudinal study examined factors that contribute to Veterans’ financial wellbeing (i.e., financial satisfaction, financial functioning) and adjustment to civilian life after separating from the military. At baseline, upon separating from the military, 14,831 Veterans completed questionnaires about their demographic characteristics (e.g., age, education, rank, parent status, race), resilience, and financial status (e.g., stable housing, insurance). 33 months later, Veterans reported on their current vocational status (i.e., education or employment status), social support (i.e., practical and emotional support), life stress (e.g., safety, health problems), financial satisfaction, financial functioning (i.e., ability to manage personal finances), and difficulty adjusting to civ ilian life. A number of factors, such as resilience and social support, can be developed before separating from service and are implicated in Veterans’ financial well-being and difficulty adjusting to civilian life.


Mental health
Physical health

Branch of Service:

Multiple branches
Air Force
Marine Corps

Military Affiliation:


Subject Affiliation:



Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)
Aged (65 yrs & older)


Longitudinal study


Elbogen, Eric B., Zeber, John E., Vogt, Dawne, Perkins, Daniel F., Finley, Erin P., Copeland, Laurel A.


Introduction Veterans transitioning from military service to civilian life manage numerous changes simultaneously, in health, employment, social relationships, and finances. Financial problems may impact financial well-being as well as adjustment to civilian life in general; yet, research on Veterans’ financial challenges remains limited. This study examined six indicators of perceived financial status among newly transitioned Veterans over a period of 3 years and then examined perceived financial well-being measured in two domains—satisfaction and functioning—and difficulty adjusting to civilian life as functions of financial status. Materials and Methods A sample representing 48,965 Veterans who separated from active duty/activated status in fall 2016 provided informed consent and survey data over their first 33 post-military months; data were analyzed in weighted regression models that included demographics, military characteristics, social support, resilience, life stress, and indicators of financial status. Results Financial status immediately post-separation included having stable housing (88%), being able to pay for necessities (83%), keeping up with creditors (88%), having insurance for catastrophic events such as disability (79%), saving for retirement (62%), and setting aside 3 months of salary (50%). Thirteen percent of Veterans disclosed troubled financial status, having achieved no more than two of these financial goals; 38% had moderate and 49% excellent financial status. Troubled or moderate financial status, Black race, enlisted, and higher levels of stress predicted lower financial functioning. Older age, college degree at baseline, employment, and social support predicted better financial satisfaction. Veterans with troubled financial status reported greater difficulty adjusting to civilian life (odds ratio 1.34); women were less likely to report difficulty adjusting to civilian life (odds ratio 0.85). Conclusions Findings indicate that financial satisfaction and functioning may be sensitive to psychosocial factors (social support and stress). Findings also underscore the value of assessing Veterans’ financial status (poor debt management and lack of future planning), providing encouragement and assistance to pursue a college degree, and improving household financial management, thus increasing the likelihood that Veterans will have the necessary tools to manage their finances after separation and achieve whole health well-being.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

Oxford Press

Publication Type:


Author Affiliation:

Durham VA Health Care System, EBE
University of Massachusetts, JEZ
National Center for PTSD (116B-3), DV
Pennsylvania State University, DFP
VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, EPF
VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System, LAC


financial status, well-being, separation, veterans, debt

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary


Henry M. Jackson Foundation

REACH Newsletter:

  June 2022

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