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Deployment Health Research Center
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Deployment Health Research Center

The DoD Center for Deployment Health Research was established on September 30, 1999 by the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs. Their mission includes conducting epidemiological studies to investigate the longitudinal health experience of previously deployed military personnel, and the development and evaluation of appropriate health surveillance strategies. Center research includes studies of symptoms, hospitalizations, reproductive outcomes, mortality, and other health outcomes among DoD beneficiary populations, both military and civilian. These studies involve investigations of personnel who remain on active duty and personnel who have left military service.

Major initiatives currently underway at the Deployment Health Research Center include:

Millennium Cohort Study – This study responds to this need and to recent recommendations from the Institute of Medicine to systematically collect population-based demographic and health data to evaluate the health of service personnel throughout their military careers and after leaving military service. The Millennium Cohort study is a probability-based, cross-sectional sample of 100,000 U.S. military personnel (as of October 2000) who will be followed prospectively by postal surveys every 3 years over a 21-year period. The 100,000 persons will be comprised of 50,000 veterans who have been deployed to Southwest Asia, Bosnia, or Kosovo since August 1997, and 50,000 veterans who have not been deployed to these conflicts. In October 2004 and October 2007, 20,000 new military personnel will be added to the cohort. The total of 140,000 veterans will be followed until the year 2022. The primary objective for this study is to compare change in health status between deployed and non-deployed personnel and the adjusted incidence rates of chronic disease between cohorts. This study will serve as a foundation upon which other routinely captured medical and deployment data may be added to answer future questions regarding the health risks of military deployment, military occupations, and general military service.

Surveillance for Birth Defects among US Department of Defense Families – In 1998 the Naval Health Research Center was commissioned to perform DoD birth defects surveillance There are an estimated 250 babies born to military personnel around the world everyday. The registry contains several elements including the medical diagnostic code assigned to the birth defect; additional medical diagnostic codes describing the individual’s history of medical care; and place and date of birth. In addition, the registry includes the parent's military rank, branch of service, and residential zip code. This information can be linked to existing databases, such as DEERS, to provide supplemental demographic, medical, and military career data. These elements can be used to monitor trends, to make comparisons with other registries, and to conduct epidemiological studies. Statistics generated from this registry will provide timely answers to reproductive questions for health policy decision makers.

Hospitalization Experience of Personnel Deployed to the Gulf War, Southwest Asia After the Gulf War, and Bosnia - This study compares the post-deployment incidence of hospitalizations among US. Navy, Marine, Air Force, and Army Gulf War veterans, military service personnel deployed for peacekeeping duty in Southwest Asia immediately following the end of the Gulf War period, and military service personnel deployed for peacekeeping duty in Bosnia. The hypothesis to be tested is that there is no difference between these three cohorts in the adjusted incidence of serious illnesses, both among broad diagnostic categories and within specific diagnoses. The analysis of post-deployment hospitalization data of personnel involved in the peacekeeping missions following the Gulf War will help to determine whether differences in hospitalization rates exist for peacekeeping forces working in different locations and whether differences in hospitalization rates exist between peacekeepers and war veterans.