The Health Care for Reentry Veterans (HCRV) program provides Veterans Health Administration outreach services to veterans incarcerated in state and federal prisons. This study used HCRV data to compare risk of incarceration of veterans of Operations Enduring Freedom (OEF), Iraqi Freedom (OIF), and New Dawn (OND) and other veterans and to identify sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of incarcerated veterans of OEF/OIF/OND.
Administrative national data were analyzed for 30,968 incarcerated veterans, including 1,201 OEF/OIF/OND veterans, contacted from October 2007 to April 2011. Odds ratios were calculated comparing the risk of incarceration among OEF/OIF/OND and other veterans in the HCRV sample and in a weighted sample of nonincarcerated veterans from the 2010 National Survey of Veterans. Stepwise logistic regressions of HCRV data examined characteristics of incarcerated veterans independently associated with OEF/OIF/OND service.
Regardless of ethnicity or age, OEF/OIF/OND veterans were less than half as likely as other veterans to be incarcerated and constituted only 3.9% of the incarcerated veterans. Compared with other incarcerated veterans, OEF/OIF/OND veterans were younger, were more likely to be married, were more likely to report combat exposure, expected a shorter incarceration, were 26% less likely to have a diagnosis of drug abuse or dependence, and were three times more likely to have combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
OEF/OIF/OND veterans appeared to be at lower risk of incarceration than veterans of other service eras, but those who were incarcerated had higher rates of PTSD. Efforts to link these veterans to mental health services upon their release are warranted.