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Health of Gulf War and Gulf War Era Veterans

Gulf War Newsletter: Information for Veterans who served in operations desert shield and desert storm and their families
 

Text version of infographic

Health of Gulf War and Gulf War Era Veterans

In 1995, VA conducted a survey study on the health of a sample of 15,000 Gulf War Veterans (deployed) and 15,000 Gulf War Era Veterans (non-deployed). VA followed up with these Veterans with another survey in 2012–2013 to learn about their recent physical and mental health. About half of the Veterans responded. The survey results indicate that more than 20 years after the war, Veterans who were deployed continue to report poorer health than Veterans who did not deploy. However, mental and physical health conditions are common in both deployed and non-deployed Veterans. Read the full study online at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26716848.

VA offers a variety of health care benefits to Gulf War Veterans. Visit hbexplorer.vacloud.us to check your eligibility and learn how to apply.

Chronic illnesses

79% of Veterans reported at least one chronic medical condition (82% in deployed Veterans and 78% in non-deployed Veterans).

  • 43.9% of deployed Veterans and 20.3% of non-deployed Veterans reported suffering from Gulf War Illness.
  • 43.0% of deployed Veterans and 40.0% of non-deployed Veterans reported suffering from Hypertension.
  • 27.7% of deployed Veterans and 15.9% of non-deployed Veterans reported suffering from Functional Dyspepsia.
  • 27.4% of deployed Veterans and 21.1% of non-deployed Veterans reported suffering from Dermatitis.
  • 24.4% of deployed Veterans and 14.3% of non-deployed Veterans reported suffering from Irritable Bowl Syndrome.
  • 20.3% of deployed Veterans and 16.1% of non-deployed Veterans reported suffering from Migraine Headaches.
  • 20.2% of deployed Veterans and 14.3% of non-deployed Veterans reported suffering from Gastritis.
  • 11.8% of deployed Veterans and 5.3% of non-deployed Veterans reported suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
  • 10.2% of deployed Veterans and 9.0% of non-deployed Veterans reported suffering from Asthma.
  • 9.4% of deployed Veterans and 6.3% of non-deployed Veterans reported suffering from Neuralgia.
  • 8.4% of deployed Veterans and 6.3% of non-deployed Veterans reported suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
  • 8.1% of deployed Veterans and 5.9% of non-deployed Veterans reported suffering from Tachycardia.
  • 5.6% of deployed Veterans and 5.3% of non-deployed Veterans reported suffering from Coronary Heart Disease.
  • 3.7% of deployed Veterans and 2.9% of non-deployed Veterans reported suffering from Fibromyalgia.
  • 2.7% of deployed Veterans and 2.0% of non-deployed Veterans reported suffering from Seizures.

The average number of self-reported chronic medical conditions was 3.5 (3.7 in deployed Veterans and 2.9 in non-deployed Veterans).

Mental health disorders

The survey included screening questions to see if Veterans may have certain mental health conditions. 45% of study participants screened positive for at least one mental health condition (52% in deployed Veterans and 39% in non-deployed Veterans).

  • 20.9% of deployed Veterans and 11.5% of non-deployed Veterans screened positive for PTSD.
  • 32.9% of deployed Veterans and 22.9% of non-deployed Veterans screened positive for Major Depressive Disorder.
  • 18.7% of deployed Veterans and 14.4% of non-deployed Veterans screened positive for other anxiety disorders.

Self reported health

10.3% of deployed Veterans and 16.2% of non-deployed Veterans reported their health as “very good.” 3.6% of deployed Veterans and 6.1% of non-deployed Veterans reported their health as “excellent.”

Source

  • Dursa EK, Barth SK, Schneiderman AI, Bossarte RM. Physical and Mental Health Status of Gulf War and Gulf Era Veterans: Results From a Large Population-Based Epidemiological Study. J Occup Environ Med 2016; 58: 41-46.