Military Medicine's Value to US Health Care and Public Health: Bringing Battlefield Lessons Home

Arthur L. Kellermann*, Russ S. Kotwal, Todd E. Rasmussen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Importance: Military medicine in the US was established to treat wounded and ill service members and to protect the health and well-being of our military forces at home and abroad. To accomplish these tasks, it has developed the capacity to rapidly adapt to the changing nature of war and emerging health threats; throughout our nation's history, innovations developed by military health professionals have been quickly adopted by civilian medicine and public health for the benefit of patients in the US and around the world. Observations: From the historical record and published studies, we cite notable examples of how military medicine has advanced civilian health care and public health. We also describe how military medicine research and development differs from that done in the civilian world. During the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, military medicine's focused approach to performance improvement and requirements-driven research cut the case fatality rate from severe battlefield wounds in half, to the lowest level in the history of warfare. Conclusions and Relevance: Although innovations developed by military medicine regularly inform and improve civilian health care and public health, the architects of these advances and the methods they use are often overlooked. Enhanced communication and cooperation between our nation's military and civilian health systems would promote reciprocal learning, accelerate collaborative research, and strengthen our nation's capacity to meet a growing array of health and geopolitical threats..

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E2335125
JournalJAMA Network Open
Issue number9
StatePublished - 21 Sep 2023
Externally publishedYes


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