The impacts of Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief operations on the mental health of Marines
Burke, Zachary R.
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In this thesis, I analyze the role of participation in a Humanitarian Assistance/ Disaster Relief (HA/DR) operation on the mental health of Marines serving between 2001 and 2011 by examining the hazard of being diagnosed with four mental health disorders during and after the mission while controlling for relevant demographic and service-specific variables. The four mental health illnesses examined are depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse and self-inflicted injuries. The statistical model used in the thesis is the Cox proportional hazard model, a standard nonparametric method of survival analysis. I found that during the year HA/DR participation occurred, Marines were at less risk of being diagnosed with each of the four mental illnesses relative to those never deployed. In the years following participation in a HA/DR operation, Marines have comparable risk of being diagnosed with each of the four mental health illnesses relative to those that were never deployed. In contrast, Marines who returned from OEF/OIF deployments have elevated risks of all four mental health illnesses compared to those never deployed. Additional analysis showed that the effect of HA/DR deployments are similar across segments of Marines, but the elevated risks following OEF/OIF deployments are larger for male Marines relative to female Marines and for enlisted Marines relative to officers.
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