With the advent of a military service in the United States, a segment of our force continues to return from conflicts with environmental health problems. These exposures are not necessarily always linked to battlefield related conditions. Deployments to various areas around the world can bring service members in contact with undiscovered or unknown elements that may not present immediate health risks. The Department of Defense has made significant improvements in documenting and assessing deployment environmental hazards and threats since over the past three decades.
These efforts have led to the creation of an environmental health surveillance databases that have been used to investigate public health issues, especially in the assessment of individual exposures during deployment. The determination of causality and linking of battlefield exposures to health outcomes in our military veterans is ongoing. The unique battlefield environment, multiple environmental exposures, and the inherent stresses of the conflicts requires addressing environmental exposures and their possible impact on military populations.