OBJECTIVE To compare the mental health status of those who participated in combat related activities during their service with that of soldiers whose army service did not include combat related activities Method: A representative sample extracted from the National Population Register of non-institutionalized residents aged 21 or older of Israel was used in this crosssectional survey. Data on mental health disorders, sociodemographic background and army service were collected using face-to-face computer-assisted interviews. RESULTS Combat experience per se was not associated with lifetime diagnosis of PTSD. Former combat soldiers had significantly lower lifetime prevalence and 12 months prevalence of any mood or anxiety disorders including PTSD. CONCLUSION This work is in line with previous literature showing that combat exposure, as such, has limited contribution to lifetime PTSD in some groups of veterans. The inverse relationship between combat exposure and PTSD might be explained by the selection of potential combatants among all recruits and by the heightened preparedness to military life stressors.