Black veterans are less likely to be chronic marijuana smokers than their white counterparts and enjoy a higher standard of living than African Americans who never joined the military, according to a new study that examined life outcomes for veterans.
The report aimed to fill an information gap in an area often overlooked: how military service influences the future lives of Black Americans, said Rand, a nonpartisan research group that is often commissioned by the Defense Department.
Among the positive indicators are higher income, improved ability to cover health care costs, higher rates of homeownership and decreased reliance on food assistance programs, compared with Black people who were lifetime civilians.
Black veterans also have “a substantially lower” likelihood of marijuana use disorderthan Black civilians as well as white veterans and civilians, the report said.
“This suggests that there might be some downstream protective effect of military service for Black veterans for this outcome or that there might be a bias against marijuana use among Black people who join the military,” Rand said.
Another finding was that military service corresponds with higher marriage rates for Black veterans compared with Black civilians.
Still, Black veterans do not have economic equity compared with white civilians and veterans, when examining indicators like annual income and need for food assistance, the report said.
In the area of suicide, Rand found no significant difference between Black veterans and Black civilians. Likewise, there was no significant difference between Black veterans and white veterans or civilians related to suicide, the report said.