Military service involves exposure to a number of stresses, both psychological and physical. On the other hand, military personnel generally maintain excellent fitness, and veterans have increased access to education and health care. The overall effect on age-related cognitive decline, whether for good or ill, of having served in the armed forces has not been investigated previously. In this study, we examined a diverse population of 208 veterans and 1,216 civilians followed as part of the Epidemiologic Catchment Area Study in 1981, 1982, and 1993 to 1996. We examined change in Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) score after a median of 11.5 years. Veterans were found to have significantly less decrease in MMSE scores at follow-up even after sex, race, and education were taken into account. These results suggest an overall positive effect of military service on the rate of age-related cognitive decline.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health