General perspective on the US military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan after 20 years

October 2, 2022

Military Medicine, 187(9-10), 248–251. 

Peterson, A. L.

It has been 20 years since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America. The ongoing military conflicts in this region are the longest sustained conflicts in U.S. history. Almost 3 million military personnel have deployed, with over 7,000 fatalities and more than 53,000 wounded in action. The most common psychological health condition associated with combat deployments is PTSD. No data exist to compare the prevalence of PTSD across war eras. Therefore, a potential proxy for PTSD risk is the number of combat-related deaths, because this figure has been consistently tracked across U.S. military conflicts. This commentary includes a table of death statistics from major military conflicts, which shows that fewer military personnel have deployed, been killed, sustained wounds, and, one might conclude, suffered from PTSD than any other major U.S. military conflict in history. Advances in the military equipment, tactics, and healthcare programs perhaps mitigated casualties and suffering among Iraq/Afghanistan veterans compared to previous wars. The estimated causality differences across various military conflicts are not meant to minimize the significant contributions and sacrifices made by this new generation of military warriors but to help us gain perspective on military conflicts over the past century as we recognize the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

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Peterson, A. L. (2022). General perspective on the US military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan after 20 years. Military Medicine, 187(9-10), 248–251.
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