5
Conclusion

Conflict has been a part of human life from the earliest moments in recorded history. Although advances in technology have furthered the conduct of war, great strides in research have also been utilized to improve the treatment of those injured in war. Further, research is increasingly being focused on addressing the health effects that may result from the use of specific agents or weapons (e.g., Agent Orange in Vietnam).

More recently, attention also has begun to focus on whether there might be broader questions regarding the consequences of service in any major military engagement. And if that is so, might there be ways to prevent or at least mitigate the consequences of war-related illnesses and deployment-related health effects? Research into this aspect of the health effects of deployment and conflict has only just begun. Congress directed that the Department of Veterans Affairs contract with the National Academy of Sciences to assist in developing plans for a national center (or centers) for the study of war-related illnesses and postdeployment health issues. This report is the result of that study.

The committee has recommended the establishment of a National Center for Military Deployment Health Research, governed by an independent board composed of representatives of the scientific community, the veteran and military community, the general public, and relevant federal agencies. This Center should be situated administratively within the auspices of the Military and Veterans Health Coordinating Board and should report to Congress annually. The Center should establish a research agenda, identify gaps in existing research, commission new research to fill these gaps, review and analyze national data resources for the study of deployment-related health, and monitor the long-term health status of veterans of military deployment.

Key to the success of advances in deployment-related health is the continued research activity of the DoD, VA, and HHS, as well as the activity, of the



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National Center for Military Deployment Health Research 5 Conclusion Conflict has been a part of human life from the earliest moments in recorded history. Although advances in technology have furthered the conduct of war, great strides in research have also been utilized to improve the treatment of those injured in war. Further, research is increasingly being focused on addressing the health effects that may result from the use of specific agents or weapons (e.g., Agent Orange in Vietnam). More recently, attention also has begun to focus on whether there might be broader questions regarding the consequences of service in any major military engagement. And if that is so, might there be ways to prevent or at least mitigate the consequences of war-related illnesses and deployment-related health effects? Research into this aspect of the health effects of deployment and conflict has only just begun. Congress directed that the Department of Veterans Affairs contract with the National Academy of Sciences to assist in developing plans for a national center (or centers) for the study of war-related illnesses and postdeployment health issues. This report is the result of that study. The committee has recommended the establishment of a National Center for Military Deployment Health Research, governed by an independent board composed of representatives of the scientific community, the veteran and military community, the general public, and relevant federal agencies. This Center should be situated administratively within the auspices of the Military and Veterans Health Coordinating Board and should report to Congress annually. The Center should establish a research agenda, identify gaps in existing research, commission new research to fill these gaps, review and analyze national data resources for the study of deployment-related health, and monitor the long-term health status of veterans of military deployment. Key to the success of advances in deployment-related health is the continued research activity of the DoD, VA, and HHS, as well as the activity, of the

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National Center for Military Deployment Health Research many independent researchers engaged in finding answers to the numerous remaining questions. These efforts are vital components of the research network envisioned within the National Center. The Center itself, however, must be independent of the governance of these agencies and groups in order to ensure the broadest research participation and the public perception of credibility of results. The issues surrounding the health of the men and women who have served in war and other military operations are complex. A National Center for Military Deployment Health Research provides an opportunity to gather together the results of many individual efforts, to analyze and synthesize what this research can reveal, and to move the nation forward in ways that will help and protect those individuals who will participate in future deployments. The Center is needed to fulfill the nation's commitment to the health of veterans, active-duty military, and guard and reserve forces, and it will provide a needed impetus to improve the prevention and treatment of deployment-related health consequences.