The saying, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” doesn’t necessarily hold up when it comes to military mental health. Michigan State University is the first to examine veterans’ personalities before and after deployment to measure psychological changes resulting from combat.
The study, published in Journal of Personality, was born through a partnership between MSU and the United States Army because military leaders wanted a better understanding as to why some soldiers struggled with reintegration to civilian life while others did not.
“Veterans’ substance abuse, domestic violence and suicide rates are higher than other populations; the Army knew it was time to more closely track psychological traits before and after they deployed,” said William Chopik, associate professor of psychology at MSU and lead author. “Our research suggests that many mental health struggles existed before they were sent overseas.”