Sociologists have long recognized that historical events, such as wars, depressions, and natural disasters, can affect the trajectories of people's lives and can reproduce or alter social structure. The following paper examines the effect of a type of event, war, on a facet of people's lives, their ability to work. It uses data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to test three accounts regarding how wars affect men's lives. The direct cumulative disadvantage account sees wars as negatively affecting the service-men who see combat regardless of their pre-combat characteristics. The moderated cumulative disadvantage account suggests that combat most negatively affects those who, before they fought, had lower status. The turning point account suggests the reverse: combat most negatively affects those who, before they fought, had greater status. The evidence suggests that, with regard to disability and unemployment, the effects of combat are most consistent with the direct cumulative disadvantage account.