A study conducted by the RAND Corporation found that veterans and civilians who work as defense contractors in combat zones experience post-traumatic stress disorder at similar rates, The Washington Post reported. It is only the second study to focus on federal contractors in war zones.
According to the news source, 25 percent of defense contractors who worked in Iraq and Afghanistan have symptoms of PTSD, compared to 20 percent of veterans. Nearly half of the contractors abused substances such as alcohol, while 18 percent of the civilian employees had symptoms of depression. For servicemembers who fought in these wars, analysis from the Institute of Medicine show similar results, with 39 percent of veterans abusing alcohol and 37 percent testing positive for depression.
"The military has programs before, during and after deployment to help service members address deployment-related mental health problems," Carrie Farmer, a RAND health-policy researcher who co-authored the study, told the news source. "The majority of contractors we surveyed reported that they did not have access to similar resources."
While the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs have resources for veterans with PTSD, defense contractors are not eligible for these health care benefits. Although the departments announced last August that they are investing $107 million into PTSD research, none of the research will focus on federal contractors.