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Individuals who hold or held a security clearance and handled classified material could become a security threat if they develop dementia and unwittingly share government secrets. The exploratory research discussed in this Perspective highlights the factors involved in dementia becoming a risk to global and national security, proposes a framework to assess the risk, and guides further study of this potential threat. The authors also explore how the national security and intelligence communities are especially at risk because they employ large numbers of military veterans, who, as a population, may have a higher risk of developing dementia because of high rates of traumatic brain injury.

This research was conducted within the Forces and Resources Policy Program of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD), which operates the RAND National Defense Research Institute (NDRI), a federally funded research and development center (FFRDC) sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense intelligence enterprise. This research was made possible by NDRI exploratory research funding that was provided through the FFRDC contract and approved by NDRI's primary sponsor.

This commentary is part of the RAND expert insight series. RAND Expert Insights present perspectives on timely policy issues. All RAND Expert Insights undergo peer review to ensure high standards for quality and objectivity.

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