U.S. Department of Defense


Date of this Version



International Journal of Surgery 10 (2012) 140-143; doi:10.1016/j.ijsu.2012.01.005


Introduction: The armed forces of the United States are engaged in the longest conflict in their history. No prior works have described the incidence or epidemiology of gunshot wounds in the U.S. military.

Methods: All combat-related gunshot wounds sustained by uniformed service members in the years 2000-2009 were identified using the Defense Medical Epidemiology Database. Demographic information for all individuals identified as having sustained gunshot injuries was obtained and like data was captured for the entire military population serving in the same time-period. Raw unadjusted incidence rates were calculated for gunshot wounds within the entire demographic, as well as for the subcategories of sex, military rank, branch of service, and age. Adjusted incidence rate ratios were also calculated via multivariate Poisson regression analysis, using subcategories with the lowest unadjusted incidence rates as referents.

Results: We identified 4693 gunshot wounds within a population of 13,813,333 person-years for an overall incidence of 0.34 per 1000 person-years. Marine Corps service demonstrated the highest unadjusted incidence rate at 0.68 per 1000 person-years. Male sex, Junior Enlisted rank, Army and Marine Corps service, and ages 20-29 demonstrated significant adjusted incidence rate ratios and maintained unadjusted incidence rates above the population mean.

Conclusions: Male sex, Junior Enlisted rank, Army and Marine Corps service, and ages 20-29 were identified as significant independent risk factors for war-related gunshot injuries. This investigation is the first to report on the incidence and epidemiology of gunshot wounds and includes the largest cohort of individuals to sustain such injuries in the literature.