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Research Summary / April 2019

Measuring Veteran Well-Being

In the past, it was difficult for Veterans Affairs Canada to measure the well-being of Veterans as there weren’t clear measures for doing so. With the development of a new well-being surveillance framework in 2017, the Department is now better positioned to do such measurement.

What is this Research About?

This report provides a profile of the well-being of Canadian Regular Force Veteran population, released from 1998 to 2015, based on the recently-developed well-being surveillance framework. It provides a comprehensive, base-line description of the well-being of the Veteran population which will be valuable for monitoring changes over time.

What did the Researchers Do?

Using data from previous Life After Service Studies, the researcher examined 21 high-level indicators representing seven domains of well-being: health, purpose, finances, life skills, social integration, housing and physical environment, and culture and social environment. The Veteran results were analyzed by sex, age group, rank and branch of service. In some cases, comparisons are made to the Canadian public.

What did the Researchers Find?

Veteran well-being is multidimensional in nature and can differ for various groups of Veterans:

  • Other than in the domain of finances, Veterans reported more concerns than Canadians such as:
    • Lower rates of self-reported very good or excellent health and mental health
    • Higher rates of activity limitations and needing assistance with activities of daily living
    • Lower rates of employment, satisfaction with life, completing post-secondary education and a weaker sense of community belonging
    • Higher rates of heavy drinking and obesity
    • Female Veterans were more likely to need assistance with everyday activities and to have a university degree
  • Male Veterans were more likely to be employed, and more likely to be heavy drinkers and obese
  • Veterans in the youngest age group reported fewer concerns in relation to health, including:
    • Lower rates of self-reported fair or poor health
    • Fewer activity limitations and less need for assistance with at least one activity of daily living
    • Veterans in the oldest age group were doing better than their younger counterparts, having:
    • Higher rates of self-reported very good or excellent mental health
    • Higher rates of satisfaction with finances and sense of community belonging
    • Easier transition to civilian life
    • Females in the oldest age group were not doing as well as their male counterparts, having:
    • Lower self-rated very good or excellent health or mental health
    • Higher rates of restricted activity and needing help with ADLs
    • Lower satisfaction with their main activity
  • Officers had the highest well-being of all the rank groups, while junior Non-Commissioned Members had the lowest
  • The well-being of Veterans by service branch depended on the composition of ranks within the branch; e.g., there were fewer officers in the Army
  • Army Veterans had the highest rates of difficult adjustment, when compared to Veterans of the other branches while Air Force Veterans were more likely to be satisfied with their finances and their main activity.


Pound, T. Measuring Veteran Well-Being. Charlottetown PE: Research Directorate, Veterans Affairs Canada. Research Directorate Data Report. 8 April, 2019.

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