Objective: In response to health concerns of military members about deployment and other service-related exposures, the Department of Defense (DoD) initiated the largest prospective study ever undertaken in the U.S. military.
Study design and setting: The Millennium Cohort uses a phased enrollment strategy to eventually include more than 100,000 U.S. service members who will be followed up through the year 2022, even after leaving military service. Subjects will be linked to DoD and Veterans Affairs databases and surveyed every 3 years to obtain objective and self-reported data on exposures and health outcomes.
Results: The first enrollment phase was completed in July 2003 and resulted in 77,047 consenting participants, well representative of both active-duty and Reserve/Guard forces. This report documents the baseline characteristics of these Cohort members, describes traditional, postal, and Web-based enrollment methods; and describes the unique challenges of enrolling, retaining, and following such a large Cohort.
Conclusion: The Millennium Cohort was successfully launched and is becoming especially relevant, given current deployment and exposure concerns. The Cohort is representative of the U.S. military and promises to provide new insight into the long-term effects of military occupations on health for years to come.