Veteran Status and Work in Deadly Civilian Jobs: Are Veterans More Likely to Be Employed in High-Risk Occupations than Nonveterans?

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Virginia Tech

The demand for workers in high-risk occupations is growing, as is the number of service members transitioning from military to civilian jobs. This paper will address whether veterans are more likely to hold physically hazardous occupations than nonveterans. While military jobs vary in the degree to which physical injury or death is likely, even basic entry into the military requires recruits to be mindful of risks at all times and routinely follow safety protocols. In comparison to the nonveteran workforce, veterans may experience a greater risk of holding physically hazardous jobs as a result of the jobs and skills for which they were trained in the military. This paper is part of a dissertation project which addresses fatal occupational injury. While much of the work literature on veterans has been descriptive, this study uses logistic regression to address the following questions: Are veterans overall more likely than nonveterans to hold high-risk occupations? The data come from recent pooled Veterans Supplements of the Current Population Survey.

The trend toward increasing high-risk employment opportunity is substantiated by the latest employment projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The occupations with the highest projected number of new jobs, in 2022, are concentrated in health care, retail service, and construction industries. The type and number of construction jobs vary among the highest growth occupations. Most in demand in 2022 will be construction laborers (259,800); laborers and freight stock, and material movers (241,900); carpenters (218,200), and heavy and tractortrailer truck drivers (192,600). Many of these jobs are nested within industries that are well-known as "dangerous" industries such as agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting, mining, construction, and manufacturing. None of these industries is evenly distributed across metropolitan (metro) and nonmetropolitan (nonmetro) places, with each having greater shares of total employment in nonmetro places compared to metro areas. This dissertation will explore whether nonmetro veterans are more at risk of high-risk job holding than metro or suburban veterans. One factor possibly contributing to nonmetro veterans being in high-risk work is that they have fewer alternative employment options, suggesting an increased likelihood that nonmetro veterans would be more willing to take higher-risk jobs than their nonmetropolitan counterparts.

Workforce, Rural veterans, Fatal occupations, Gendered occupations, Employment opportunities, High-risk industries