Public-Private Partnerships for Providing Behavioral Health Care to Veterans and Their Families: What Do We Know, What Do We Need to Learn, and What Do We Need to Do?
OBJECTIVE Most veterans who use Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care are not employed. This study evaluated the association between mental disorders and labor force status among VA health care users. METHODS Multinomial logistic regression analyses modeled the relationship between mental disorders and employment among patients aged 18 to 64 who completed the 2005 Survey of Healthcare Experiences of Patients. RESULTS Of the 98,867 patients who met eligibility criteria, 36% were disabled, 35% were employed, 20% were retired, and 7% were unemployed. Those with bipolar disorder, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, or a substance use disorder were more likely to be unemployed, disabled, or retired than employed. CONCLUSIONS This study confirmed a negative relationship between having a mental disorder and being employed. Future studies of barriers associated with veterans' employment could help policy makers target mental health treatments and supportive employment services to the unique needs of veterans.