When Soldiers and other Service Members are deployed, they not only risk injury and death from combat, but are also exposed to a range of other health threats that may have a negative impact on the mission performance and readiness. These threats come in many forms: from infectious disease to neurotrauma and psychological stress. These challenges negatively impact physical performance and degrade cognitive functioning and decision-making.

Historically, diseases have debilitated or killed more Service Members than battle injuries.

  • More person-days were lost among U.S. military personnel due to malaria than to battle injury during every military campaign fought in malaria-endemic regions during the 20th century.
  • In Iraq and Afghanistan, 76% of deployed troops reported enteric illness, with 1 in 6 confined to quarters for several days.
  • Mental disorders are the leading cause of hospital bed days in the military and the second leading cause of medical encounters.
  • Neurological and psychiatric diagnoses were among the top 5 reasons for medical evacuations from Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Since 2000, more than 384,000 traumatic brain injuries have been reported in the DOD.

The Army’s active force is at its smallest since before World War II, so it is critical for each Service Member to remain healthy. Force readiness is complicated further by the fact that deployments are often to austere environments where there are endemic infectious diseases to which our troops have no immunity.

WRAIR's legacy of scientific excellence, extensive international research network, and unique set of in-house research assets combine to ensure the continuing ability to meet these critical research needs.