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Factors Associated with psychiatric evacuation among Service members deployed to OEF/OIF, January 2003 – September 2010

Publication Status: Published

Sponsoring Organization: Defense Health Agency (formerly TRICARE Management Activity)

Sponsoring Office: Defense Health Agency (formerly TRICARE Management Activity)

Congressionally Mandated: No

Funding Source: Defense Health Agency (formerly TRICARE Management Activity)

Release Date/Publication:

Principle Investigator Status: Government

Primary DoD Data Source: Military Health System (MHS) Data Repository

Secondary DoD Data Source: Contingency Tracking System


To determine the association between psychiatric evacuation from Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) and demographic, military, and deployment characteristics of deploying Service members. The increased frequency of psychiatric evacuations since 2004 has been anecdotally attributed to the cumulative effects of multiple deployments, or the increased reliance on Reserve and National Guard units, but quantitative evidence is lacking.

Study Design:
This observational study used retrospectively-collected deployment and aeromedical evacuation records to calculate psychiatric evacuation rates, characterize the evacuation circumstances, and quantify the rates of re-deployment after evacuation. Descriptive statistics were used to compare characteristics for psychiatric evacuees with those of other deployers. Binary logistic regression analysis was used to assess the likelihood of psychiatric evacuation based on Service, component, personal demographics, year of military accession, theater of first deployment, and number of deployments. Statistical significance was assessed at a 95% confidence level.

Population Studied:
All Service members evacuated from OEF/OIF from January 2003 through September 2010 with a primary or secondary psychiatric diagnosis (ICD-9 codes 290 – 319), on their evacuation record; and a 20% random sampling of all other deployers who did not psychiatrically evacuate (N = 364,047).

Principle Findings:
After applying sample weights, a total of 0.3% (n = 5887) deployers experienced one or more psychiatric evacuations. Relative to other deployers, psychiatric evacuees were significantly over-represented by females (14.8% versus 11.4%); age group 17 – 24 years (55.4% versus 44.8); whites (69.9% versus 65.6%); and those with a high school diploma or less (83.8% versus 73.6%); those never married (49.1% versus 47.8%); and those with one or two dependents (37.1% versus 34.7%). Elevated psychiatric evacuation rates were observed inconsistently across both combat and noncombat duty assignments. A total of 3951 (67.1%) of evacuees evacuated upon first deployment and 1553 (26.4%) of evacuees evacuated on second deployment. Among all psychiatric evacuees, 4754 (80.8%) never turned to theater or redeployed after they evacuated. Depression (24.9%), post-traumatic stress disorder (24.9%), and psychotic illness (18.4%) accounted for two-thirds of evacuation diagnoses. Drug and alcohol-related disorders accounted for less than 3% of psychiatric evacuations. After adjusting for personal demographics and deployment characteristics, Army Active Duty members had the highest likelihood of psychiatric evacuation, followed by Army National Guard (AOR = 0.852, 95% CI 0.790, 0.919), Army Reserve (AOR = 0.825, 95% CI 0.740, 0.919), Navy Reserve (AOR = 0.585, 95% CI 0.461, 0.742), and Marine Active Duty (AOR = 0.390, 95% CI 0.353, 0.0.430).

This study identified psychiatric evacuation as primarily an Army burden, and an Active Duty burden within the Army. While other studies have linked violent combat-related exposures to adverse, post-deployment mental and behavioral health outcomes, the contribution of multiple deployments or prolonged combat exposure to an outcome of psychiatric evacuation is not apparent in these findings. Further study is warranted to isolate and mitigate the underlying causes of this growing and costly contributor to unit attrition.


Wilmoth MC, Williams TV,, Factors associated with psychiatric evacuation among service members deployed to operation enduring freedom and operation iraqi freedom, january 2004 to september 2010. Mil Med. 2015 Jan;180(1):53-60.

For More Information:

Contact DHA/Analytics at 703-681-3636

Last Updated: July 11, 2023
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