This proposal requests support for a three-year longitudinal study of military service in adult development and aging among men who were born between 1908 and 1915. Using data from the Stanford Terman study of gifted children (available via ICPSR at UNC), the proposed project investigates the process leading to military service, its timing and nature, with particular emphasis on the link between military experience (career, combat, etc.) and the pre-serivce life history; the return to civilian life and the immediate post-military career (first decade); and the influence of military service/related events on the subsequent life course to old age. The Terman study began in 1920-21 by recruiting nearly 1500 children with IQs above 135 from large shcool systems in the state of California. Follow-ups were carried out in 1928, every fifth year from 1936 through 1960 (n=800 men approximately), and from 1972 to 1985-86 (in progress). A total of 483 men participated in the 1982 follow-up. The research plan is organized around three areas. Phase I includes three tasks: (1) the investigation of factors and pathways leading to military service, its timing and nature; (2) the preparation of life record data files from the archive; and (3) the measurement of military experience and relevant psychosocial outcomes. Comparisons on pre-service factors will center on veterans versus non-veterans, early entrants versus late entrants, and combat exposure versus no exposure. Phase II focuses on the second problem area, the multivariate analysis of factors that bear upon the return of men to civilian life and their life course over the first post-war decade. These factors include pre-service pathways linking family and educational experiences. Phase III centers on the long-term influence of military service, its duration and timing, type of military career, combat exposure. Detailed archival data are available on military experience from the 1945 follow-up and successive follow-ups provide information on mental and physical health. The social data across these follow-ups enable characterizations of the actual life course (in terms of worklife, family, etc.) followed by the men over the years. Planned statistical analyses are based on subgroup comparisons, ordinary least squares, and causal modeling. This proposal makes pioneering use of a longitudinal archive in a relatively neglected field of lifespan study. As millions of veterans from WW II enter the later years of life, it is time that we understand the implications of their military service for health, coping, and adaptation.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
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Life Course and Prevention Research Review Committee (LCR)
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University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Schools of Medicine
Chapel Hill
United States
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Elder, Glen H; Clipp, Elizabeth C; Brown, James Scott et al. (2009) The Life-Long Mortality Risks Of World War II Experiences. Res Aging 31:391-412
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