Having a parent or sibling serving in the military may lead to distress and mental health problems among adolescents. This research brief examines differences in depression and mental health service use among U.S. adolescents ages 12-17, comparing those who have parents or siblings currently serving in the military to those who do not. The study shows that adolescents are more likely to have an older sibling than a parent in the military. Although current parental military service is not associated with major depression among adolescents, having an older sibling in the military is associated with an increased probability of major depression among adolescents. In addition, parental but not sibling military service is associated with increased mental health service use among adolescents. Ultimately, younger siblings of currently serving military personnel are an under-recognized at-risk population for depression and may have unmet needs for mental health care.

Document Type

Research Brief


Military, Mental Health, Family


Mental and Social Health | Sociology






The author is a research affiliate of the Center for Aging and Policy Studies, which receives funding from the National Institute on Aging (grant # 1P30AG066583). Thank you to Shannon Monnat, who provided feedback on an earlier version of this brief.


National Institute on Aging

Funding ID


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.