There are many reasons as to why there is a need for charities such as Helping a Hero, but one of the greatest ones is because of the injuries that soldiers suffer. Between 2005 and 2009, 0.4% of all those in combat zones were injured and received treatment for it. Additionally, there has been a significant increase in casualties as a result of explosive devices, particularly in Afghanistan.
A Recent Study
To better understand the scale of the problem, a study has been conducted into the injuries sustained and where. This was the first time any research was conducted into patterns of injuries, as well as the first time that there was a comparison between Iraq and Afghanistan. The study aimed to determine whether there were patterns, and who was most at risk of injuries and even death.
The Epidemiology of Injuries
The study looked at 1,992,232 service members. 29,624 of these were injured in combat and 7,877 died. The average casualty age was 26 years. 98.5% were males, 78.1% were soldiers, and 59.2% were junior enlisted men.
31% of all injuries in Iraq were part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. After this, there was a sharp decrease. In Afghanistan, 46% of casualties happened during Operation Enduring Freedom.
The study showed that the distribution of wounds was:
- 52% in extremities.
- 28% in head and neck.
- 10% in thorax.
- 10% in abdomen.
20% were due to gunshot wounds, while 75% were as a result of explosives. Interestingly, in World War II, this was 73%, in Korea it was 69%, and in Vietnam it was 65%.
It was also found that injuries as a result of explosives were more common in Iraq, although the figure did rise in Afghanistan in later years. One of the key reasons for this was because there was new technology available in explosive devices. The result was that Afghanistan became much more kinetic, surpassing Iraq in terms of danger.
The study continues to this day, and will next look at specific orthopedic injuries, determining its patterns and incidences. This will include traumatic amputations, which service member have been particularly susceptible to.
It is hoped that the data will help the military to better protect those most at risk, and the body parts most likely to be affected. Indeed, this has already commenced, with tests on a new type of armour being nearly completed. This armour is designed to protect the genital area in particular. Overall, the aim is that the study will help keep military personnel safer when deployed in active combat zones.
Meanwhile, charities like Helping a Hero continue to provide support for those who have been injured, or who have suffered any other type of difficult as a result of being in the military. They fully support the ongoing study, hoping that it will, eventually, reduce the need for services like their own by virtue of keeping troops safer. They are keen participants and encourage anyone who comes through their door to take part in the study.