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Health Survey Will Be Used to Provide Better Care, Assess Readiness

The Defense Department is now fielding the 2024 Health Related Behaviors Survey to nearly 250,000 randomly selected active-duty service members.  

The deadline for completion is May 3. 

ROTC cadets pull a rope during a competition as fellow cadets cheer them on from the sideline in a tent.
Tournament Time
San Diego State University and University of California, Santa Barbara ROTC cadets participate in a tug-of-war tournament at Fort Irwin, Calif., March 2, 2024.
Photo By: Kyle Crawford, Army
VIRIN: 240303-A-YR592-8158M

This year's survey includes questions about mental and physical health, substance use, and other health topics related to service member readiness.   

"The survey is the department's flagship survey for understanding health, health-related behaviors, and well-being of service members, allowing leaders to better understand the readiness of the force,” said Navy Capt. Kenneth Richter, director of psychological health for the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. "Increased participation by service members helps develop conclusions that better represent the overall population of the DOD."

Survey answers are confidential, and a participant's responses are not shared with the department or service branches in a way that can identify them, he said. 

A solider kneels while looking out of the rear of a military helicopter as it flies over a beach on a sunny day.
Enjoying the View
Army Sgt. Shelby Lewis looks out of the rear of a CH-47 Chinook during training over Hawaii, March 3, 2024.
Photo By: Army National Guard Sgt. Lianne M. Hirano
VIRIN: 240303-Z-UF566-2264Y

"Some of the major findings from the 2018 survey showed an increase from the 2015 survey in reports of health-related behaviors that are associated with poor outcomes. However, service members' self-reported behaviors appeared [at] or above general population benchmarks set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for physical health and functioning, including rates of obesity, frequency of exercise and high-risk group HIV testing," Richter said. 

Since 1980, DOD has partnered with third-party survey assessors to gauge health-related trends within the force. Typically offered every two or three years, the survey has evolved from focusing strictly on substance use and abuse to a broader look at service member health and well-being, Richter said. 

An airman walks next to bundles of a cargo as it enters an aircraft partially displayed in the background.
Set for Delivery
An airman prepares bundles of humanitarian aid for an airdrop over Gaza, March 7, 2024. Airmen delivered 38,000 halal meals through an airdrop to ensure the aid is received by civilians most in need without delay for communities that may be difficult to reach on the ground.
Photo By: Air Force
VIRIN: 240307-F-LJ715-1292M

Daniel Evatt, the chief of the research execution section at the Defense Health Agency's Psychological Health Center of Excellence, also emphasized the importance of the survey in understanding the health of the force. 

"If members of a particular occupation or demographic group don't have a high rate of response, then we may not have a very good understanding of the needs of that group,” Evatt said. "If you are invited to respond, then your answers will help make sure that we understand experiences of service members like you."

"The final results [of the survey] are read and used by policy makers, program managers and researchers, and they can help us direct care where it is needed most,” Evatt said. "Sometimes the findings tell us that a behavior issue is more or less common than previously thought."

Sailors walk in formation aboard a ship under a dark, cloudy sky as spotlights illuminate the background with green and orange lights.
On Duty at Dawn
Sailors prepare for a morning foreign object debris walk-down aboard the USS George Washington in the Atlantic Ocean, March 1, 2024.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class August Clawson
VIRIN: 240301-N-VX022-1008M

If selected to participate, service members will receive an email with a link to their military email addresses recorded in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System.  

DOD has partnered with the RAND Corp., a private research and analysis company, to conduct the survey. Recipients will receive an email from with a survey control number and a link to the welcome page.  

For more information and an extensive FAQ on the purpose of the survey, recipients can visit

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