Wednesday, December 16, 2009

U.S. Military Healthy & Strong

Army strong
Army strong

The Defense Department is announcing the final results of its 2008 survey of the health of active duty military personnel. For the first time, active duty Coast Guard members were included.

"The 2008 survey indicates that the U.S. Armed Forces are generally strong, healthy, and ready to accomplish their mission," said Dr. Jack Smith, M.D., acting deputy assistant secretary of defense. "We are pleased with the continued increase of healthy behaviors and preventive health practices reported by our service members."

The study shows notable decreases over the past 28 years in the use of cigarettes and illegal drugs and encouraging indicators of mental well being.

In addition, there are improvements in certain self-reported preventive health measures since 2005 including increases in moderate or vigorous exercise and a decline in overweight personnel under age 20. When compared to civilian data adjusted to mirror military demographic characteristics, the 2008 survey showed that military rates of heavy drinking were lower than the civilian average among those aged 46 to 64. For cigarette use, military rates were slightly higher than civilian rates among those aged 18 to 35 but military rates were significantly lower for those 36 and older.

The 2008 rate for illicit drug use, including prescription drugs, was 12 percent, an increase from 5 percent in 2005. The percentage increase is primarily attributed to the addition of questions that ask for usage of prescription medication for non-medical reasons. Rates of use of nonprescription illicit drugs (e.g. cocaine, marijuana, amphetamines) have remained low and stable at about 2 percent.

The survey, which was conducted confidently and anonymously was on in a series that asks active duty service members about various health related behaviors. In addition to substance use, the survey also assesses mental well-being, deployment issues, fitness, nutrition and weight management, and selected national health status goals. More than 28,500 service members from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard, randomly selected to represent men and women in all pay grades of the active force throughout the world participated.


Photo/Capt. Mike Miranda

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