Disparity in military retiree life spans

Jan. 21, 2009 at 4:30 PM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- Defense Department statistics have revealed that U.S. active-duty military retirees don't live as long as retirees who served in the Reserves.

The (Newport News, Va.) Daily Press said Wednesday that the death rate for retired career enlisted personnel age 60 or older in any given year is 20-25 percent higher than retired Reserve enlisted personnel.

In 2004, for example, the average life expectancy of a 60-year-old retired active-duty enlisted man was 19.6 years while Reserve enlisted retirees had an average life expectancy of 21.5 years.

The newspaper said Pentagon actuaries had no concrete reasons for the disparity, but noted that the phenomenon goes back decades and is considered significant.

Speculation among Defense Department officials has included factors such as the stresses of combat, frequent moves, a lack of continuity in medical care and bad habits such as smoking and drinking.

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