Life After Service Survey 2016
Executive Summary

The Life After Service Studies (LASS) program of research is designed to further understand the transition from military to civilian life and ultimately improve the health of Veterans in Canada. LASS partners are Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC), the Department of National Defence/Canadian Armed Forces (DND/CAF), and Statistics Canada. LASS 2016 expands on the earlier studies from 2010 and 2013 by including family content and a longitudinal component in two major studies: the survey of health and well-being, and the record linkage for pre- and post-release income trends. This technical report provides initial cross-sectional findings for Regular Force Veterans from the 2016 survey. Additional analysis will be covered in subsequent reports.

LASS 2016 survey data was collected by telephone in February and March 2016 by Statistics Canada interviewers who obtained a 73% response rate. Results describe Veterans who released (at post-entry ranks) from the CAF Regular Force between 1998 and 2015.

Findings indicate that 52% of Veterans reported an easy adjustment to civilian life, while 32% reported difficulty. Officers had a lower rate of difficult adjustment (17%), compared to 29% of Senior Non-Commissioned Members (SrNCM) and 39% of Junior Non-Commissioned Members (JrNCM). Veterans with recent releases (between 2012 and 2015) had a higher rate of difficult adjustment (42%), compared to earlier releases between 1998 and 2012 (29%). Compared to those with earlier releases, these recently-released Veterans had higher rates of service in Afghanistan, fair or poor self-rated mental health and less than 10 years of military service, all factors associated with difficult adjustment.

Veterans reported chronic conditions, including arthritis (29%), depression (21%), anxiety (15%), and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (14%), at higher prevalences than Canadians of comparable age and sex. SrNCM had the highest rate of arthritis (40%), and JrNCM had the highest rates of depression (24%), anxiety (18%), and PTSD (18%). Veterans also reported higher rates than Canadians for hearing problems, pain, and activity limitations. Since LASS 2013, the trend for chronic conditions has been increasing, although not statistically significant.

Most Veterans were employed (65%). SrNCM had a lower employment rate (57%) compared to Officers (64%), and JrNCM (70%). The unemployment rate for Veterans was 8%, similar to Canadians of comparable age and sex. Non-labour force activities for Veterans included retirement (16%), on disability (8%), and training (5%). Since LASS 2013, the trend for non-labour force activities has been increasing, although not statistically significant.

Some Veterans experienced low income (4%). This was lower than Canadians of comparable age and sex (14%), and has not changed since LASS 2013. JrNCM had the highest rate (6%). Most Veterans were satisfied with their finances (69%), and has decreased since LASS 2013 (74%). Officers had a higher satisfaction rate (85%) compared to SrNCM (75%), and JrNCM (60%).

LASS 2016 included new content on families. When asked about the effect their release had on the family, most Veterans reported that the transition was easy for their partner (57%) and their children (60%). However, 28% of Veterans indicated their partners had difficulty with their release, and 17% reported their children had difficulty with their release.

LASS findings have provided evidence to inform the efforts of both VAC and DND/CAF to support transition to civilian life. LASS 2016 findings will continue to contribute to improvements to programs, benefits, communications and outreach, to ultimately improve the health and well-being of Veterans in Canada.

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