Due to growing evidence linking combat service to increased rates of osteoarthritis (OA), the Arthritis Foundation urges federal investment in arthritis research through the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP), Peer Review Program (PRP) at the Department of Defense. Current research suggests that stresses placed on joints during military training activities, increased rates of injury, and increased weight of military packs have led active duty soldiers and veterans to have twice the rate of OA when compared to non-military populations.  

  • The number of soldiers medically retired from the Army with at least one musculoskeletal condition increased nearly 10-fold from 2003 to 2009, according to Army statistics.
  • OA is the leading cause of disability and medical discharge in active service members under the age of 40.
  • Nearly 1/3 of all medical evacuations from Iraq and Afghanistan, from 2004-2007, resulted from musculoskeletal, connective tissue or spinal injuries. This is more than double the number of medical evacuations from combat injuries.
  • 1,000,000 joints will be replaced this year alone due to OA.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) strikes at the peak of one’s career (mid-late thirties/forties) and often leads to early retirement and disability.
  • RA, which is autoimmune in nature, doubles one's risk of heart disease and diabetes and increases one's risk of stroke by 30%.

A new avenue of research funding for OA and RA could help identify arthritis prior to the onset of symptoms. This research could help identify medical and physical interventions to prevent or minimize joint damage and slow or stop the arthritis disease process before joints are permanently damaged. Targeted research efforts would focus on examining genetic factors, ways to improve diagnosis, screening, and treatment options.


How Your Members of Congress Can Take Action:

The Arthritis Foundation strongly recommends that as a Member of Congress, you communicate with your respective members and leadership on the Appropriations Committee, or its Defense Subcommittee on Appropriations, to include the topics of "Post-Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis" in the Peer-reviewed Medical Research Program, Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program of the Defense Appropriations Bill, FY2015.

Post-traumatic Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis were both included in the DoD portion of the FY2014 Omnibus Appropriations Bill.

How You Can Take Action:

  • Share this issue brief with your friends, family members and community leaders.
  • Share the Arthritis Foundation DOD CDMRP letter with your Member of Congress.
  • Click here to view a list of Peer-Reviewed Medical Research Program Arthritis Grants awarded.
  • Click here to listen to a recording of our Issue Expert Training on research at the DOD.

 

Call Congress About This Issue

Dial the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected with your Senator's office. Then share this message:

Hi, my name is [your name] and I live in [city], [zip]. I’m calling today to talk about arthritis research at the Department of Defense. I would like Senator [Senator's Last Name] to support the inclusion of the topics of "Post-Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis" in the Peer-reviewed Medical Research Program, Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program of the Defense Appropriations Bill, FY2015 and want to know what I can do to help make that happen. Please contact me at your convenience via email at [your email] or [your phone]. Thank you!

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