VA to Study Veterans’ Deaths
An enormous study to establish the cause of veterans’ deaths has been initiated by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Defense Department.
Nextgov reports the study will require matching the records of 34 million service personnel with their death certificates, which means looking at everyone who has served since 1979. The initiative, called the National Mortality Study, will first look at the almost 1 million veterans who were on active duty in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars from 2001 to 2010.
The study of veterans’ deaths is expected to help the VA determine if there are factors that result in higher veteran mortality than in the general population and will include a look at veterans’ suicide rates, reports Nextgov.
Every 80 minutes, a veteran is known to commit suicide, according to VA statistics. In 2012, suicides by active duty military personnel were 349, a figure higher than combat deaths in Afghanistan.
On receiving the data match file from CDC, the VA will carry out a mortality study of Afghanistan and Iraq veterans including an assessment of traumatic injury deaths such as suicides and car crashes, as well as poisonings, including drug overdoses.
The matches will not include Defense health records, but only personal information such as name, date of birth, and Social Security number, according to Nextgov.
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