A new study has found that veterans who served in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars are nearly twice as likely as other Americans to struggle to get enough food.
The study from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health found 27 percent of young veterans from those wars do not have consistent access to food.
Lead author Rachel Widome said the study confirms that food insecurity amongst veterans needs to be addressed by policy makers.
"Over 2.5 million Americans have served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it's a huge part of our population, and these wars were immensely expensive and lasted more than a decade," Widome said. "I just think it's unconscionable that such a sizable proportion of those sent to fight these wars are now struggling to afford food."
Widome said food insecurity is often just one facet of the larger financial challenge faced by the newest veterans. The study found that veterans who have trouble getting food are more likely to use tobacco, binge drink and sleep less. They're also more often younger, of poorer health and single.
"This is something that we should keep in the mind, that struggling to afford food might be a hidden struggle that some of the people we're working with deal with," Widome said. "There are resources out there that could help connect them to that would help alleviate this problem."
The study included 922 veterans who visited the Minneapolis VA Health Care System at least once. It was published today in the journal Public Health Nutrition.