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A BDU cap and dog tags sitting on top of the American Flag

According to a new survey, American male soldiers are more likely to have endured childhood trauma. More specifically, men who had voluntarily served in the military after 1973 were more likely to have lived through a negative childhood experience.

For example, those with a post-1973 military background were twice as likely to have experienced various forms of childhood sexual abuse.

The research team suggested that the finding could be a cause for concern, given that early childhood exposure to various forms of physical, mental, and/or sexual abuse among the civilian population has been linked to a higher adult risk for depression, drug abuse and suicidal tendencies.

“At this point, we are not clear what may be driving the higher percentage [of childhood trauma],” said study author John Blosnich, a researcher with the Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs at the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System. “This first study is only a signal that showed there was difference. [And] as with many initial studies like this, it raises more questions than it answers.”

These findings have been reported in the  journal JAMA Psychiatry.

Among women, differences were not as apparent, though volunteer servicewomen were more likely to say they had been touched sexually as a child.

The study authors suggested that the findings might reflect an attraction to the military among men searching for a way out of a difficult situation.

Blosnich said it remains to be seen whether childhood trauma translates into long-term trouble.

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