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Beginning in May 2011, the Millennium Cohort Study, which is conducted at the Naval Health Research, began enrolling new volunteers into this DoD-wide study. This year, the research team expects to add 50,000 U.S. service members to reach a total goal of more than 200,000 participants. Enrollment is projected to last six or more months.

The Millennium Cohort Study is the largest prospective military health study in the United States and captures data on service members from all of the military branches. Enrollment cycles, which occur every three years, have been timed to assess occupational exposures and health outcomes that may be related to deployment. This study is in its tenth year and is scheduled to continue until 2022.

"The Millennium Cohort Study is poised to provide critical information toward understanding the long-term health of future generations of military members, thus contributing to force health protection, a DoD priority," said Dr. Nancy F. Crum-Cianflone, the study's principal investigator. "In addition to the enrollment of service members in this cycle we hope to enroll about 10,000 military spouses as part of the Millennium Cohort Family Study."

The Millennium Cohort Family Study is designed to get a better sense of how military families are coping with military life after nearly a decade of war. Spouses who enroll will be contacted every three years to complete a follow-up survey, even if their sponsor is no longer in the service.

Findings from this study will go a long way in helping to understand the emerging and changing needs of military families, as well as the cumulative effect of multiple deployments.

The Millennium Cohort Study team is currently working on a number of research efforts to prospectively investigate military, veteran, and public health concerns possibly related to military service. Specifically, the study is designed to combine survey data with vaccination, personnel, deployment, and military health system information, to evaluate the impact of military service, including deployment, on various health measures.

In response to concerns about the health effects of deployments following the 1991 Gulf War, the Congress and the Institute of Medicine recommended that DoD conduct prospective epidemiological research to evaluate the impact of military exposures, including deployment, on long-term health outcomes.

The Millennium Cohort Study, the largest prospective health study in the military with more than 150,000 participants at present, meets this critical need. Although the original designers of the Millennium Cohort Study could not foresee the post-2001 military conflicts, the project is perfectly positioned to address health outcomes related to these operations.

More than 40 percent of Millennium Cohort participants have deployed in support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and their input will enable investigators to prospectively evaluate detailed data from before, during, and long after these deployments. Current areas of analyses include post traumatic stress disorder, depression, alcohol misuse, respiratory illnesses, and traumatic brain injury.

For more information on the Millennium Cohort Study visit www.millenniumcohort.org.