Military combat, mental health, and crime: A preliminary test of a general strain theory model


Research has shown that military combat experience can shape later mental health in a negative fashion and increase subsequent antisocial behaviors. Limited research to date has attempted to explore if military combat experience is related to antisocial behaviors because it increases the likelihood of negative mental health states. Using general strain theory (GST) as a guide, the current study offers a preliminary test of how military combat experience, negative mental health, with a focus on depressive symptoms and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and antisocial behavior, with a focus on criminal behavior, might relate together in a single theoretically informed model. Results from the Add Health sample suggest that military combat experience correlates with depressive symptoms, PTSD, and crime. Further, results suggest that PTSD, but not depressive symptoms, could potentially act as a mediator between military combat experience and subsequent criminal behavior. Implications for theory and policy are discussed.

Publication Title

Criminal Justice Studies