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Fund Arthritis Research at the Department of Defense

Arthritis Affects the Veteran Population

One in four veterans has arthritis, and it is the second leading cause of medical discharge from the U.S. Army. The physical demands of military service can weaken the joints, leading to arthritis; combat injuries also increase the risk for arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation urges federal investment in arthritis research through the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) at the Department of Defense in the FY17 funding bill.

Military Training May Lead to Osteoarthritis (OA)

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 osteoarthritis (OA) when compared to non-military populations. 

  • A 10-year review of arthritis in active-duty military found OA rates to be 26% higher in the under-20 age group, compared with the same age group in the general population.
  • Data from the Army's Physical Evaluation Board revealed that arthritis was the most common unfitting condition, with 94.4% of cases attributed to combat injury.
  • Traumatic anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries occur frequently among service members and can lead to the development of arthritis and possible joint reconstruction within 20 years. In fact, over 3,000 ACL reconstructions are performed every year in U.S. military hospitals.
  • Musculoskeletal injuries are pervasive and represent 68% of all limited-duty orders, even in non-combat units.
    Individuals over age 40 were twice as likely to develop arthritis after returning to civilian life.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is known to advance the progression of cardiovascular disease; data from the Veterans Affairs Rheumatoid Arthritis registry confirms the mortality rate among veterans with RA is considerably more than double the rate among those without RA.

Download Our Whitepaper

A Silent Enemy: How Arthritis is Threatening Veterans and the US Military – an issue brief that provides detailed information, analysis and data supporting the need and value of dedicated DoD arthritis funding. Read More >>


Arthritis research that helps our military and veteran populations will benefit everyone with arthritis, a debilitating disease that attacks one in five Americans in the general population.

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