Financial Status and Well-being in Recently Separated Military Veterans

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E2181-E2188
JournalMilitary medicine
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - Jul 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine

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