Background: Evidence indicates that a substantial proportion of military personnel are involved in high-risk and antisocial behaviors that place them at jeopardy for criminal justice system involvement. However, prior research on military service and crime has disproportionately focused on veterans from the Vietnam War era (1955–1975), and has tended to focus on either current or former military members. Methods: This study employed data from a population-based study (i.e., National Study on Drug Use and Health [NSDUH] between 2002 and 2014). It systematically examines the prevalence of self-reported antisocial behaviors, criminal justice system involvement, and substance abuse among the US civilian population and military service members, including reservists (n = 2206) and those who reported having been separated or retired from military service (n = 20,551). These factors are further examined across the developmental spectrum of adulthood (ages 18–34, 35–49, and 50–64). Results: Results showed that military members were more prone to lifetime arrests and overall substance misuse. However, additional findings emerged suggesting that, while the military population overall seems to be positively associated with higher criminal activity than that found in the civilian population, these findings were based on a specific subgroup of the veteran population. This subgroup is comprised of individuals who likely did not fit in with the military culture and were discharged from the military early in their careers. Conclusion: Additional research on identifying this subgroup of military members is encouraged to better concentrate on prevention and treatment measures.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health(social science)
- Social Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health