Projects on Medical Readiness and Deployment

Current Projects

US Army Photo: Soldier hugs his wife and daughter

Defining and Measuring Family Readiness: The Deployment Life Study

The success of military operations depends not only on the preparation of servicemembers but also on the preparation of their families, a concept referred to as "family readiness." Recent military budgets allocate unprecedented levels of funding for a wide range of programs designed to support the health and well being of service members' families, yet family readiness remains an abstract concept. To address this issue, RAND is collecting longitudinal data from approximately 5,000 Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine families across the deployment cycle. Study results will help military policymakers design programs targeting the families most likely to need support and tailor those programs toward interventions most likely to address real needs.

Innovative Programs to Address Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury

Over the past several years, the DoD has implemented numerous programs, interventions, and other services to address the psychological health of servicemembers, including programs for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and traumatic brain injury (TBI). However, few of the initiatives have been evaluated. RAND created a comprehensive catalog of existing efforts and a taxonomy to characterize them, as well as developed an analytic framework and set of measures to monitor and evaluate program effectiveness. RAND is also evaluating some of the most promising programs.

Effects of the Army Force Generation (ARFORGEN) Process and Operational Tempo on Beneficiary Health and Health Care Needs

  • Principal Investigators:
  • Katherine Harris,
  • Adam Resnick

Army officials are concerned about how the Army Force Generation (ARFORGEN) cycle, and deployment cycles more generally, are likely to affect the level, mix, and timing of health care services beneficiaries need, as well as the ability of Military Treatment Facilities (MTFs) to provide care. RAND is conducting a two-part study to help the Army better understand these issues. One component examines the effects of ARFORGEN and other policies on the MTFs' ability to meet the general health needs of soldiers and their families; the second part of this research effort focuses on needs and gaps in behavioral health care.

Psychological Well-Being Among NCIS Agents: Impact of Deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Africa

RAND researchers are assessing the effects of deployment on personnel from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) to conflict areas. The study will examine policy and program alternatives that may mitigate any negative effects on agents and their families.

Review of Department of Defense Suicide Postvention Programs and Policy

RAND researchers are examining suicide 'postvention' policy, that is, policies and programs that guide each service's responses to suicides and suicide attempts, and ways in which such policies and programs can be improved. This study will involve reviewing existing policies and programs as well as studying actual suicide responses at different installations.

Performance Monitoring Center for Welcome Back Veterans Grant Program

RAND is creating a performance monitoring center for the Welcome Back Veterans (WBV) grant program. Launched in 2008 by Major League Baseball, and administered in partnership with the McCormick Foundation, WBV supports veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as their families, with mental health treatment and job opportunities. RAND researchers will devise a set of performance monitoring objectives for the overall WBV program as well as design tools that can be used for monitoring the performance and progress of individual grantee programs.

Boots on the Ground and Dwell Time for Army Forces: Implications on Unit Effectiveness, Training, and Soldier Well-Being

RAND researchers are developing a framework and methodology for evaluating alternative combinations of deployment tour lengths, or Boots on the Ground (BOG), and time at home (dwell) with the goal of providing essential insights into how the elements of Army rotation rates effect the health and readiness of the Army. This study will adapt the RAND Deployment Life Study survey instruments to include unmarried soldiers, and will define a process to develop a consensus opinion from clinicians, researchers, and leaders on the relationship among BOG, dwell, and behavioral health of soldiers and their families.

An Assessment of Operation Purple Camp: Evaluating Effects Associated with Camp Participation

This evaluation of Operation Purple®, a free, one-week summer camp for youth from military families to help them cope with the stress of war, is examining how the camp curriculum was implemented during 2011 and if improvements were noted in four camp outcomes: communication skills, understanding of military culture, sense of service, and outdoor education.

Completed Research

Invisible Wounds of War: Estimating the Psychological Toll of Deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan

In addition to physical injuries, troops are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with an array of mental and emotional scars, some of which do not manifest themselves until well after the service member has returned home. This major study collected and analyzed information about the needs of, and services for, returning military personnel with posttraumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and other mental and emotional injuries associated with deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan. Learn more about RAND's Invisible Wounds project.

Understanding Gulf War Illnesses

Shortly after the 1991 Persian Gulf War ended, veterans of that conflict began reporting a variety of physical and psychological symptoms. RAND conducted extensive searches of available literature and assembled baseline scientific and medical information about possible causes, including wartime stress, chemical and biological warfare agents, oil well fires, and pesticides. Learn more about RAND's Gulf War Illness research.

Understanding the Effects of Deployment on Children and Families

Very little is known about how deployment affects the children and families of military personnel, particularly in the current context of multiple and extended deployments. To begin addressing these knowledge gaps, a RAND team conducted a longitudinal study focused on a sample of youth from military families and their caregivers. The study population was drawn from applicants to Operation Purple®, a free summer camp for children from military families sponsored by the National Military Family Association.

Assessing Needs of Veterans and their Families Residing in NY State

Mental health disorders and other types of impairments resulting from deployment experiences are beginning to emerge, but fundamental gaps remain in our knowledge about the needs of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, the services available to meet those needs, and the experiences of veterans who have tried to use these services. RAND examined the health, mental health, and social services needs of returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans and their families in New York State in order to provide a better understanding for how these needs vary by geographic region, demographics, and socioeconomic factors.

Information Needs of Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury

Combat troops in today's war zones are at risk for traumatic brain injury (TBI) from the blasts of improvised explosive devices. The physical, psychological, and emotional symptoms of these "silent" war wounds are often misinterpreted and pose a huge challenge to military and medical professionals and to families of affected servicemembers. RAND analyzed data from focus groups and interviews to inform the development and refinement of informational materials for servicemembers with mild TBI and their families. The final report from this study is in production and awaiting security clearance from DoD.

Identifying Best Practices for Promoting Resilience

The recent increase in operational tempo of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan comes with a number of challenges for service members and their families. Longer and more frequent deployments combined with the other consequences of combat may stress existing coping resources. RAND reviewed the literature on psychological resilience with a focus on evidence-informed practices that may be applicable to programs for active duty service members and their families. Based on the review, RAND identified and assessed current DoD programs to determine whether they incorporate principles and elements based on the evidence.

Assessing Medical and Dental Readiness of the Reserve Components

As an integral part of the U.S. military, the Reserve Components are continually called upon to support operations around the globe. Besides the need to be properly equipped and trained, the Reserve Components must also ensure that servicemembers are medically ready to serve when called upon. RAND reviewed medical and dental readiness requirements of the Reserve units and assessed the systems used to monitor compliance with standards. When possible, RAND identified the costs of maintaining Reserve Component members at the required level of medical/dental readiness and assessed the costs of alternative approaches to improving readiness that will ensure compliance with Reserve Component standards. A report based on this study is in production and awaiting sponsor and security approval/release.