As a result of high-impact injuries sustained during military service, many service members struggle with career-ending joint damage, debilitating joint pain, disability and risks associated with medical procedures. These challenges often lead to an armed service member’s medical discharge, and subsequent, immense costs can accrue to the Department of Defense (DOD). Currently, arthritis is the second leading cause of medical discharge from the U.S. Army, following only injuries sustained in combat, and is the leading cause of disability among our veterans.
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The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention estimates that one in three veterans currently live with arthritis, compared with one in five members of the general population. Despite these epidemic-level rates of arthritis in our armed forces and the growing cost of this disease to the U.S. military system, the DOD has no dedicated arthritis research budget. More than 20 diseases—many of which are not directly related to military service—have dedicated budgets within the DOD’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP). But arthritis research must compete with more than 30 medical topics in a general research program budget where funding is not guaranteed.
By convincing the DOD to dedicate existing CDMRP funds to a standalone arthritis research program, we can help researchers and providers meet the growing needs of active and retired military personnel who have irreversible damage and lifelong needs related to their service.
The ACR is partnering with veteran service organizations to ask Congress to appropriate $20 million in existing funding for a standalone arthritis research program at the DOD to address the impact of arthritis on our service members. To date, 25 veteran organizations, including the Wounded Warrior Project, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Marine Corps League and the Vietnam Veterans of America, have signed a letter to Congress supporting our request (full list below).
Service members and veterans living with arthritis have answered the call to serve our country. The ACR/ARP can help ensure they and future service members are properly cared for. Add your name to the list of supporters for this important research by contacting your legislator through our Legislative Action Center today. Ask Congress to address arthritis’ impact on our military.
- American Veterans
- Armed Forces Retirees Association
- Association of Military Surgeons of the United States, the Society of Federal Health Professionals
- Association of United States Navy
- Commissioned Officers Association of the U.S. Public Health Service Inc.
- Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the US
- Fleet Reserve Association
- Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
- Jewish War Veterans of the USA
- Marine Corps League
- Marine Corps Reserve Association
- Military Chaplains Association
- Military Order of Purple Heart
- National Guard Association of the United States
- Naval Enlisted Reserve Association
- Non Commissioned Officers Association
- Reserve Officers Association
- Service Women’s Action Network
- TREA: The Enlisted Association
- United States Army Warrant Officers Association
- S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers Association & Enlisted Association
- USCG Chief Warrant and Warrant Officers Association
- Vets First
- Vietnam Veterans of America
- Wounded Warrior Project