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Sunday 01 November 2015

Counting the Cost

Research by Dr Julia Diehle | Prof Neil Greenberg

Summary

The United Kingdom Armed Forces (UK AF) has deployed to numerous conflict zones since 1991. Research has shown that some Personnel will experience adverse deployment-related mental and physical health consequences . Non-deployment physical injuries have also been frequently reported . Perhaps less visible has been the potential for military Service to negatively impact partners, children and parents of Service Personnel. In order to better understand the health consequences of military Service, this study aimed to establish the total number of people (Service Personnel, Veterans and their families) who might require health or welfare support following Service in the British Armed Forces during the UK’s recent conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere since 1991.

Abstract

Military service, including deployment, may have a negative impact on physical and mental health. In term of physical health, Def Stats report on official adverse physical health outcomes, such as amputations, resulting from blast and gunshot wounds during deployment [8]. Statistics on medical discharges also show that musculoskeletal disorders are highly prevalent in deployed and non-deployed Personnel, and were often responsible for disrupted careers [4]. Physical injuries have often been related to training exercises, sport and recreation activities as well as deployment [2]. With respect to mental health, scientific studies have found that deployed regular Service Personnel report more alcohol abuse problems than non-deployed personal and those in combat roles might be especially at risk of developing PTSD. Deployed Reservists have also been shown to be more vulnerable to PTSD than regular Service Personnel [1, 9]. Perhaps less visible has been the potential for military Service to have a negative impact not just upon the Service Person but also their partners, children and parents. Although research has suggested dependents’ mental health might also be negatively affected, less is known about the consequences of military Service on dependents [10, 11]. Despite the evidence that military Service could have a negative effect on Personnel and dependents, the extent to which serving in the UK AF might adversely affect health, and how many of those in the UK AF (and their dependents) might have health or welfare needs, has been unclear. Yet, in order to plan future health provision, it is necessary to establish how many of those who served in the UK AF, and how many of their dependents, might have health problems and what kind of problems these might be. The current study therefore aimed to examine the number of military Personnel and their dependents who might need health or welfare support in the years ahead. The study aimed to ‘Count the Costs’ of military Service in order to provide an estimate for Help for Heroes (H4H), the wider military charity community and the National Health Service (NHS) of the approximate extent of support required for this group.

Abstract

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