To determine patterns of mental health service use before and after disability compensation awards for posttraumatic stress disorder ().
A 10 percent random sample of ‐enrolled Veterans with new or increased service connection between 2012 and 2014 ( = 22,249).
We used latent trajectory analysis to identify utilization patterns and multinomial logistic regression to assess associations between Veteran characteristics and trajectory membership.
We assessed receipt of mental health encounters in each of the 52 weeks prior to and following disability rating or rating increase.
The best fitting model had five groups: No Use (36.6 percent), Low Use (37.7 percent), Increasing Use (9.4 percent), Decreasing Use (11.2 percent), and High Use (5.1 percent). Adjusting for demographic characteristics and compared with the No Use group, Veterans in the other groups were more likely to reside closer to a facility, receive a higher disability rating, and screen positive for military sexual trauma.
Service use remained stable (80 percent) or increased (9 percent) for the vast majority of Veterans. Service utilization declined for only 11 percent. Data did not indicate substantial service discontinuation following rating. Low service utilization suggests opportunities to enhance outreach for Veterans with ‐related disability benefits.