An analysis of non-combat injuries sustained by American military personnel while deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan over 12 years has revealed some illuminating trends that may aid in establishing new standard procedures that will keep service members safer while doing their job in theater.
According to the report, which was published in the medical journal JAMA Surgery on Wednesday and headed by Dr. Tuan D. Le of the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, around a full third of all injuries sustained by deployed service members were non-combat related, and more than 1 in 10 deaths that occur while deployed are the result of ordinary accidents. These nonbattle injuries (NBI) are an important piece of the Pentagon’s overall readiness push, as NBIs add to the burden of forward medical treatment facilities, contribute to attrition rates do to injury separations and death, and lead to higher disability claims over the lifespan of service members. It’s no surprise that men and women in uniform can get hurt while performing their ordinary duties, but by further examining the ways in which personnel sustain different types of injuries, changes can be made that may limit the number of accidental injuries sustained per deployment — improving unit level readiness and overall force level readiness all at once.
“Nonbattle injury among deployed forces may have different possible causes, deplete medical resources, increase costs, decrease mission capabilities, and result in long-term disability for injured service members,” the report claims.
While the debate between gun rights and gun control advocates continues to rage within America’s borders, some of the researchers findings may come as a surprise to those that argue the presence of firearms is the catalyst for a recent surge in mass shootings and gun violence within the United States. Deployed service members carry firearms with them everywhere they go, and often, they carry live ammunition along with them. Despite the high prevalence of loaded weapons on bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, however, firearm related injuries came in second to last on the list, with only “sports” accounting for fewer accidental injuries throughout the study’s scope.