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One-third of service member injuries in Iraq, Afghanistan not combat-related

By Danielle Haynes
One-third of service member injuries in Iraq, Afghanistan not combat-related
A study says non-combat-related injuries in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars account for one-third of all service member injuries -- a rate that has stayed largely steady over the course of 11 years. File Photo by Edward D Holzapfel/Rex Features | License Photo

May 31 (UPI) -- Non-combat-related injuries accounted for more than a third of all service member injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan in an 11-year period, a new study indicates.

The study, conducted by the Army Institute of Surgical Research at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and published Wednesday in JAMA Surgery, found that of the 29,958 service members injured from 2003 to 2014, 34.1 percent were not caused in battle. Of the injuries that resulted in deaths, 11.5 percent were not battle-related.

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Most non-combat-related injuries were caused by falls (21 percent), vehicle crashes (19 percent), machinery or equipment accidents (13 percent), and accidental gunshot wounds (7 percent). Some 11 percent were caused by unspecified blunt objects.

The rate of non-battle injuries, or NBIs, was the same for service members assigned to combat arms units and those in combat support roles. NBI rates for women were higher than for men, at 63.2 percent and 33.1 percent, respectively.

The proportion of NBIs remained steady throughout the 11-year period.

"The contribution of NBI to approximately one-third of the total casualty burden and force attrition suggests a need for pre-positioned and adaptable safety measures during military operations," the study says.

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"Understanding the possible causes of NBI during military operations may be useful to target protective measures and safety interventions, thereby conserving fighting strength on the battlefield."

Researchers evaluated data from the Defense Department Trauma Registry for the study.

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