By Debbie Gregory.
The Office of the Army Surgeon General has released the inaugural Health of the Force (HOF) report, which provides a snapshot of the health of active duty Soldiers on U.S. based installations in 2014.
The Health of the Force report, released by Army Medical Command (MEDCOM) has tracked and collected health care data, showing the progress and needs of today’s soldiers. Key data regarding injuries, behavioral health, chronic disease, obesity, tobacco use, sleep disorders, hospital admissions, and other health measures has been invaluable in evaluating troop readiness.
In his first message to the force upon becoming Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen. Mark Milley stated, “We must ensure the Army remains ready as the world’s premier combat force. Readiness for ground combat is — and will remain — the U.S. Army’s #1 priority. We will always be ready to fight today, and we will always prepare to fight tomorrow.”
According to the report, medical readiness was achieved by 83 percent of Soldiers, with injuries affecting nearly 300,000 Soldiers annually. Approximately 15 percent of Soldiers had a diagnosed behavioral health disorder, including adjustment disorder, mood disorders and anxiety disorders.
Many of these issues can be attributed to inadequate sleep, affecting the approximate 33 percent of Soldiers who get five hours or less of sleep per night and the approximate 62 percent of Soldiers who get less than seven hours. Inadequate sleep increases the likelihood of injuries, behavior disorders, anxiety, post-traumatic stress and depression.
And, the report notes very sobering information that “individuals who routinely get five to six hours of sleep perform much like a person with a blood alcohol content of 0.08.”
Army Leaders now have the “Health of the Force” to track the health of the Army, installation by installation, and to share lessons learned for those installations on different ends of the health spectrum.
Those who serve our nation, past and present, deserve the best healthcare available. The MilitaryConnection.com Military Medicine page has outstanding articles and resources for anyone who wants additional information.