Deserving Veterans' Disability Compensation: A Qualitative Study of Veterans' Perceptions

Health Soc Work. 2017 May 1;42(2):e86-e93. doi: 10.1093/hsw/hlx017.


Veterans recently returned from Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) experience many health and mental health problems after deployment. These OEF/OIF veterans are applying and appealing for veterans' disability compensation (VDC) at rapidly increasing rates, often for "invisible conditions" such as posttraumatic stress disorder. Little is known about how veterans experience the process of applying and receiving VDC. In-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with OEF/OIF veterans ages 35 and younger (N = 18). This article addresses how veterans perceive themselves, and other veterans, of being deserving and undeserving of VDC. Veterans' rationales can be categorized into four primary areas: (1) risking and suffering, (2) the cause of the condition, (3) intentions to become self-sufficient, and (4) putting VDC to "good use."

Keywords: benefits; disabilities; military; qualitative study; veterans.

MeSH terms

  • Afghan Campaign 2001-
  • Humans
  • Iraq War, 2003-2011
  • Qualitative Research*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic*
  • United States
  • Veterans*