Veterans who experienced sexual trauma in the military are at increased risk for homelessness, according to a new U.S. study.

Compared to veterans who didn’t experience sexual assault, battery or harassment during their military service, those who did were about twice as likely to be homeless during the five-year study, researchers found.

“I think what stood out was the magnitude of difference,” said lead author Emily Brignone, of Utah State University in Logan.

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) introduced universal screening for military sexual trauma in 2004. This kind of trauma has been tied to a number of poor health outcomes, including posttraumatic stress, depression, poor relationships with families and lower qualities of life.

But whether it affects veterans’ risk of homelessness hasn’t been studied until now, the researchers write in JAMA Psychiatry.

The new findings are drawn from VHA data on 601,892 veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan and who left the military between 2001 and 2011.

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Image courtesy of Reuters