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Updated: Jun 30, 2023

Military Service and Its Impact on the Individual

How is the topic defined or conceptualized?

Military service is simply a service by an individual, whether voluntary or by conscription, to serve one’s country in some capacity. The United States of America (USA) has eight federal uniformed services:

1. Army

2. Marine Corps

3. Navy

4. Air Force

5. Space Force

6. Coast Guard

7. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps

8. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps

Those who voluntarily enlist have an 8-year obligation, 4 -6 year active and the remainder in Individual Ready Reserve (IRR). How Long Do I Have to Serve if I Join the Military? | Empire Resume The average time spent in the army across all federal uniformed services is around 15 years The Average Length of Enlistment in the U.S. Military - Synonym.

Importance of Human Services in the military?

It is well known that mental health disorders, depression, substance abuse, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is rather prevalent among veterans (Finnegans, Randals, 2021). Mental health disorders discussed in the media most are depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but other issues such as veteran suicide is 1.5 times higher than the general population. In 2020, almost 17 veterans were committing suicide per day (Hooper, Hardey, 2023). Other issues, such as traumatic brain injury (TMI) and interpersonal violence are also a threat to veterans and impact family members. Statistics fail to capture the massive number of family members that are affected by military service. (Inoue, et al, 2023) Human service professionals would do well to help improve the quality and care of services for military personnel and their families.

In terms of when mental disorders emerge - there is not a real defined timeline. There are times when individuals and families are more stressed, for example when combat is coming up or there is a separation from family members (Inoue, et al, 2023). An important point is that veterans who have returned from combat have all been treated very differently depending on which war they fought. Vietnam veterans seem to have suffered the most with one in six having suffered from PTSD. The rates of divorce, substance abuse, homelessness, and suicide have also been higher amongst this population Vietnam War: Causes, Facts & Impact ( From World War II to now, it is well worth noting that of those that have experienced homelessness, half are Vietnam veterans.

Important considerations for human service providers to consider are the numerous stressors associated with military service emotionally, physically, mentally, financially, spiritually, and sexually. These considerations need to be applied to families and military personnel. The growth and development of the family needs to be considered. Perhaps having a more holistic viewpoint towards the family from the beginning of deployment would help in the transition of the veteran back into civilian life. Veterans have notoriously struggled to integrate back into family, employment, financial, and civilian life. As a result, housing instability and homelessness among veterans has been rife. It seems like a vicious cycle between integration back into civilian life, mental health, and homelessness. The rising cost of living, housing, and inflation has not helped the plight of the returning veteran’s assimilation into civilian life. Approximately, 40, 056 Veterans experience homelessness every night and almost double that experience homelessness in a year. Veteran Homelessness – National Coalition for Homeless Veterans ( This quantity has reduced by half since 2009 due to the massive effort by Veterans Affairs (VA). An important resource for veterans in need of housing is: Housing help | USAGov. Another important resource is Veterans Elder Care Benefits - Pension Aid and Attendance (, 1/3 of veterans over 65 qualify for benefits but only 5% apply.

Phil VanderHamm has been an accredited VA agent for over 12 years and has helped thousands of veterans in getting increased benefits nationally.

What are Important Considerations for Human Service Providers to Know as they work with Individuals and Families?

i. The transition from military life into civilian life

This changeover is a well-known difficulty- the first two years are extremely important and can make the difference between being homeless/housing instability and having a home.

ii. Employment hurdles and long-term relationships

Skills in the army are not always easily transferred into everyday living.

iii. Mental and behavioral health

Having been in combat or the stress of being away from loved ones can have a huge impact on mental health.

iv. Lifetime history of poverty

Is serving in the armed forces a means to an end or an end to a means? Do you have a choice in life, or do you feel forced to join the army? We are not all cut from the same cloth so for many people this is not a good choice.

v. Cost of Living: Inflation, Housing and Cost of Living

Inflation is driven by supply and demand, Covid-19 did not help and there are and have been a shortage of many products. Inflation has driven the cost of food, gas, cars, and other everyday products up drastically in the last few years. Rent and housing prices have increased hugely over the past few decades. Our salaries cannot keep up with the rising cost as seen in the graph below:

We have a lot less disposable income as the cost of daily products increases.

vi. Internal vs External Locus of Control

If you are a person with an internal locus of control, you believe within yourself that you have control over what happens. If you have an external locus of control, you believe that it’s not in your control e.g., fate or chance.

Do you take control and make the best of life moving forward? Too much internal locus of control and we blame ourselves for things that we have no control over and too much external control and we lose initiative over our lives to achieve more than we are capable of.

vii. Health

We are living so much longer these days. We have more chance of getting sick or chronically or terminally ill than we do of dying of old age these days. 8 out of 10 people who go bankrupt do so because of medical costs and most of them had good medical aid (insurance). We all need living benefits which is life insurance we don’t have to die to use.


Phil VanderHamm

Accredited VA Consultant



Sheldon Bain

Living Benefits Expert




Young children are recruited for the army at a really young age. They don’t really have a clear picture of their future about finances, family, education etc. Human service professionals can look to work at helping these children make the correct choices at high school as most are not ready for combat, or leaving their families. These teenagers are not emotionally ready to handle most of what they have to deal with when deployed. Human service professionals would do well in counselling these children going forward.


Borowski, Rosellini, A. J., Street, A. E., Gradus, J. L., & Vogt, D. (2022). The First Year After

Military Service: Predictors of U.S. Veterans’ Suicidal Ideation. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 63(2), 233–241.

Broderick, P. C., & Blewitt, P. (2020). The Life Span: Human Development for Helping

Professionals. Pearson.

Finnegan, A., Randles, R., (2022). Prevalence of common mental health

disorders in military veterans: using primary healthcare data BMJ Mil Health Published Online First: 18 January 2022. doi: https://10.1136/bmjmilitary-2021-002045

How Home Prices and Household Incomes Changed since 1960

How Long Do I have to Serie if I join the Military?

Inoue C, Shawler E, Jordan CH, Jackson CA. Veteran and Military Mental Health Issues. 2022

May 23. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 34283458.

New International Version Life Application Study Bible. (1978). Zondervan.

The Average Length of Enlistmnet in the U.S. Military

Veteran Homelessness – National Coalistion for Homeless Veterans.

Vietnam War: Causes, Facts & Impact. Vietnam War: Causes, Facts & Impact - HISTORY


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