Diabetes strikes veterans, too! Recent research underscores a troubling reality: the prevalence of diabetes among military personnel is significantly higher than that of the general population. A study conducted by a team of scientists from the University of Tennessee in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) examined the prevalence of diabetes among military personnel compared to the general U.S. population. Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, it was found that the prevalence of diabetes among veterans is nearly 25%, higher than that of the general population [1].

Statistical data demonstrate a trend of diabetes prevalence among veterans from 2005 to 2018. For instance, the overall prevalence of diabetes among veterans increased from 15.5% in 2005–2006 to 20.5% in 2013–2014 [2], reaching 25% by 2018 [1].

Among veterans aged 65 and older, the prevalence of diabetes is 27%, and among males, it is 22%. Exceptionally high rates of the disease are observed among individuals with less than 12 years of education (33.5%) and those with incomes below 100% of the poverty level (23.8%) [2].

Various factors contribute to the heightened prevalence of diabetes among military personnel. Exposure to herbicides during service, such as among Vietnam War veterans, is a known potential risk factor. Additionally, lifestyle factors such as obesity and limited access to health care play a significant role. The genetic link between obesity and diabetes doubles the risk for this population [1]. For example, in the U.S., the highest rates of obesity are found among veterans aged 45 to 64 (53.1%), males (41.1%), individuals with less than 12 years of education (51.4%), and veterans living below the poverty level (47.2%).

As a result, diabetes often leads to vision loss, kidney failure, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, and amputations in veteran patients [3]. It costs the American healthcare system approximately $245 billion annually [1].

The impact of diabetes extends far beyond individual health, especially in regions affected by conflicts or wars. In Ukraine, where veterans face significant health challenges due to wartime realities, combating diabetes becomes extremely important. Ukraine, like the U.S., already experiences a high prevalence of diabetes, as reported by endocrinologists in the Volyn region [4]. Despite many veterans being relatively young and experiencing high levels of stress and physical exertion, which may contribute to diabetes development, limited access to healthcare, potential post-war economic crises, and poverty may exacerbate the situation. The burden on healthcare systems, along with the long-term consequences of untreated diabetes, underscores the need for prompt interventions.

After wartime, ensuring veterans have access to quality healthcare and diabetes prevention programs in Ukraine is crucial. Targeted efforts in early detection and treatment of diabetes can significantly improve the quality of life for military personnel and reduce future healthcare costs.

Advancements in medical technology already offer solutions to potential problems. For instance, CheckEye provides opportunities for early detection of diabetic retinopathy—the leading cause of blindness among people with diabetes. Through AI-based solutions, it is possible to detect and take necessary actions preemptively, ultimately improving the quality of life for veterans and citizens alike.


1. Diabetes Prevalence Higher Among Veterans Than General Population. U.S. Medicine. (2018, June 19). https://www.usmedicine.com/clinical-topics/diabetes/diabetes-prevalence-higher-among-veterans-than-general-population/

2. Liu, Y., Sayam, S., Shao, X., Wang, K., Zheng, S., Li, Y., & Wang, L. (2017, December 14). Prevalence of and trends in diabetes among veterans, United States, 2005-2014. Preventing chronic disease. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5737977/

3. VA research on Diabetes. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (n.d.). https://www.research.va.gov/topics/diabetes.cfm

4. За час повномасштабної війни на волині побільшало хворих на цукровий діабет – VSN. Волинська служба новин (VSN). (2022, November 14). https://vsn.ua/news/za-chas-povnomasshtabnoyi-viyni-na-volini-pobilshalo-hvorih-na-tsukroviy-diabet-14045