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Health Care Use by Gulf War & OEF/OIF/OND Veterans

Musculoskeletal and connective system diseases, such as disorders of the back, joints, or soft tissues, were the most common diagnoses among Veterans who used VA health care and served in the Gulf War in 1990-1991 or Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, or New Dawn (OEF/OIF/OND).

Text version of infographic

Health Care Use - Gulf War Veterans and OEF/OIF/OND Veterans, October 1, 2001 - September 30, 2013

Veterans deployed to the Gulf War, and Veterans deployed to Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, or New Dawn (OEF/OIF/OND), have accessed VA health care as inpatients or outpatients for a variety of reasons. How many of these Veterans use VA health care, why do they use it, and who uses it?

This information does not represent all Gulf War or OEF/OIF/OND Veterans who are eligible for VA health care. It only describes Gulf War and OEF/OIF/OND Veterans who have accessed VA health care. It describes health care use between October 1, 2001 and September 30, 2013 and does not include data from the start of the Gulf War.

VA health care use by conflict

  • Gulf War Veterans: 621,901 Veterans are eligible for VA health care. 46.1% of these Veterans use VA health care. The number of Gulf War Veterans eligible for VA care represents those deployed from August 1990 through February 1991.
  • OEF/OIF/OND Veterans: 1,724,058 Veterans are eligible for VA health care. 57.9% of these Veterans use VA health care. The number of OEF/OIF/OND Veterans eligible for VA care represents those who have completed a deployment, separated from the military, and are considered eligible for care.

Most common diagnoses by conflict

  • Gulf War Veterans: Diseases of the Musculoskeletal System/Connective System, 63.6%; Symptoms, Signs, and Ill-Defined Conditions, 61.5%; Diseases of the Nervous System/Sense Organs, 58.0%; Diseases of Endocrine/Nutritional/Metabolic Systems, 57.0%; Diseases of the Circulatory System, 48.3%.
  • OEF/OIF/OND Veterans: Diseases of the Musculoskeletal System/Connective System, 59.2%; Mental Disorders, 55.3%; Symptoms, Signs, and Ill-Defined Conditions, 54.7%; Diseases of the Nervous System/Sense Organs, 47.9%; Diseases of the Digestive System, 36.7%.

A Veteran can have more than one diagnosis in a major category. Symptoms, Signs and Ill-Defined Conditions are not a diagnosis of an unknown syndrome or unusual illness. It includes common symptoms that do not have an immediately obvious cause or laboratory test abnormalities. This category includes more than 160 sub-categories and primarily consists of common symptoms and isolated laboratory abnormalities.

Demographics of VA health care users

  • By gender: Gulf War Veterans, 91.9% male, 8.1% female. OEF/OIF/OND Veterans, 87.9% male, 12.1% female.
  • By rank: Gulf War Veterans, 91.7% enlisted, 8.3% officer. OEF/OIF/OND Veterans, 91.1% enlisted, 8.9% officer.
  • By unit type: Gulf War Veterans, 83.4% active duty, 16.6% Reserve/Guard. OEF/OIF/OND Veterans, 59.0% active duty, 41.0% Reserve/Guard.
  • By branch: Gulf War Veterans, 59.0% Army, 12.6% Marines, 18.3% Navy, 10.1% Air Force. OEF/OIF/OND Veterans, 59.4% Army, 14.0% Marines, 13.7% Navy, 12.8% Air Force. Very few Coast Guard Veterans use VA health care.

Health care utilization reports

Four times a year, VA publishes reports that describe the health care use of OEF/OIF/OND Veterans at VA facilities.

Not enrolled in the VA health care system?

Find out if you qualify. There are many ways a Veteran may qualify, including:

  • Served in the Persian Gulf from August 2, 1990 to November 11, 1998
  • Served in a combat theater after November 11, 1998, which includes OEF, OIF and OND (extended period of eligibility for 5 years after discharge)
  • Have a military service-connected disability
Find out if you’re eligible: Health Benefits Explorer
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