Study leader Eric B. Elbogen of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and psychologist in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said the survey was conducted from July 2009 to April 2010.
Responses were collected from 1,388 veterans who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars after Sept. 11, 2001. The sample included veterans from all branches of the U.S. military and all 50 states.
"When you hear about veterans committing acts of violence, many people assume PTSD or combat exposure are to blame," Elbogen said in a statement. "But our study shows that is not necessarily true."
The national survey revealed that other factors are just as important to understanding violence in veterans, including alcohol misuse, criminal background, as well as veterans' living, work, social and financial circumstances, Elbogen said.
These findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, found one-third of survey respondents self-identified committing an act of aggression towards others in the past year -- most of which involved relatively minor aggressive behavior. Eleven percent of the sample reported more severe violence, Elbogen said.
"Although the majority of study participants did not report aggression, the potential for violence does remain a significant concern among a subset of returning veterans," Elbogen said.