Self-perception of disability and prospects for employment among U.S. veterans

Christopher L. Griffin, Michael Ashley Stein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Barriers to employment in the civilian labor force are increasingly difficult problems for returning veterans with disabilities. Reduced self-perception of disability status because of predominant military norms can be particularly harmful to reintegration efforts. OBJECTIVE: We analyze rates of self-identified and externally determined disability status among U.S. veterans. Evidence of a lower self-report rate would confirm the hypothesis that armed forces culture might hold back truly deserving veterans from seeking the benefits owed, including specialized employment training programs. METHODS: We use data from the Current Population Survey Veterans Supplement over the sample period 1995-2010 on disability status and associated demographic characteristics to present descriptive measures and limited statistical inference. RESULTS: Over the entire sample period, federal agencies considered 29% of the survey respondents to have a serviceconnected disability versus a 9% self-identification rate. The rate of more severe service-connected disabilities has risen steadily, while less drastic disability rates have fallen. Non-white respondents and those with lower education levels were less likely to self-identify. CONCLUSIONS: Large disparities in internal and external disability status identification raise questions about targeting soldiers re-entering the labor force. Employment policy should focus on overcoming negative cultural stereotypes and encouraging selfidentification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-58
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Disabled soldiers
  • Labor force
  • Self-identification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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