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The Impacts of Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief Operations on the Mental Health of Marines

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Technical Report

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

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In this thesis, I analyze the role of participation in a Humanitarian Assistance Disaster ReliefHADR operation on the mental health of Marines serving between 2001 and 2011 by examining thehazard of being diagnosed with four mental health disorders during and after the mission whilecontrolling for relevant demographic and service-specific variables. The four mental health illnessesexamined are depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse and self-inflicted injuries. Thestatistical model used in the thesis is the Cox proportional hazard model, a standard nonparametricmethod of survival analysis. I found that during the year HADR participation occurred, Marines were atless risk of being diagnosed with each of the four mental illnesses relative to those never deployed. In theyears following participation in a HADR operation, Marines have comparable risk of being diagnosedwith each of the four mental health illnesses relative to those that were never deployed. In contrast,Marines who returned from OEFOIF deployments have elevated risks of all four mental health illnessescompared to those never deployed. Additional analysis showed that the effect of HADR deployments aresimilar across segments of Marines, but the elevated risks following OEFOIF deployments are larger formale Marines relative to female Marines and for enlisted Marines relative to officers.

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