Armed Forces News

Soldiers conduct a surfboard competition at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, March 3, 2021. The competition consisted of 14 rigorous events to test soldier’s physical and mental strength. (Army photo by Spc. Jessica Scott)

Newly released results of a 2018 survey indicate reservists generally are less likely than their active-duty comrades to engage in unhealthy behaviors. However, the two organizations that conducted the survey – the RAND Corporation and Defense Health Agency – deliberately avoided making direct comparisons of the two components’ results.

Their methodology “cannot account for all the differences in surveys between the two components, though a number of important military and demographic characteristics … were included in the model,” the RAND Corporation wrote.


The survey suggested the following trends:

– Health promotion and disease prevention: While “significantly more” reserve component respondents were obese and were less likely to meet strength-training goals, they were more likely to get more quality sleep than their active-duty counterparts.

– Mental and emotional health: Reservists and National Guard members were less likely to engage in binge and heavy drinking. As such, they also experienced fewer negative consequences for such activity than their active-duty counterparts. And while reserve respondents were less likely to use tobacco, prevalence of illicit drugs like marijuana was greater.

– Physical health and functional limitations: Active-duty respondents were considerably more likely to report chronic health conditions like high blood pressure, back pain, as well as bone, joint and muscle injuries. Reservists missed less work and had fewer incidents of reduced productivity on the job, and were more likely to be in very good or excellent health.

– Sexual behavior and health: Active-duty respondents were “significantly” more likely to engage in “risky sexual behaviors.” Reservists were less likely to have engaged in sex with two or more partners during the past year, use condoms with new partners, or contract sexually transmitted infections including HIV.

The confidential survey was conducted between October 23018 and March 2019, and included respondents from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.

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