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Mil Med. 2014 Apr;179(4):348-55. doi: 10.7205/MILMED-D-13-00471.

Casualties of the Global War on Terror and their future impact on health care and society: a looming public health crisis.

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Department of Surgery, John Muir Hospital, Walnut Creek, CA 94598.


This article is a primer to understand the medical advances and the future health care consequences of the current conflicts in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, known as the Global War on Terror. There have been significant advances in health care learned in caring for those injured by the conflict--often a polytrauma blast victim, but there are also very high incidence rates of the hidden injuries of war--traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicide, and depression. These lead to disruptive behaviors, homelessness, and family violence. Global War on Terror returnees are using medical services and applying for disability at higher rates than in previous conflicts. The costs for veterans' care may peak 30 to 40 years or longer following the conflict, and will inflict an enormous burden on services and resources. The effects of the war will linger for years and impact across generations because of the stress on families and children. We must mobilize government agencies, create public-private partnerships, and invest our resources now to mitigate the approaching tsunami of veterans' health care needs, the impact on our social services, and the devastating costs to society.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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