King's Centre for Military Health Research
The King’s Centre for Military Health Research (KCMHR) is addressing the increasing government and wider public concerns about the medium and long term health of UK military personnel and their families. The centre is a joint initiative between the Institute of Psychiatry and the Department of War Studies and makes significant contributions to UK military personnel policy.
Research in the centre began in 1996 by studying the health and wellbeing of UK Gulf War veterans and also included historical studies on the health of veterans since the Crimean War. In 2003 the centre was asked by the UK MOD to start a new large scale study into the physical and psychological health of those who were going to take part in the invasion of Iraq which was reported in 2006.
The Centre was originally funded by the US Department of Defense. For the past 10 years, core funding has come from the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), the Medical Research Council, the ESRC, the Leverhulme and Joseph Rowntree Trusts, the Royal British Legion and, latterly, the US Department of Defense again. Although it receives core funding from the Ministry of Defence, KCMHR remains totally independent of the MoD.
Recently, funding has been extended to 2012 and the centre is embarking on research into the UK public's views of the military. The centre is also developing data-sharing links with colleagues in the USA, ‘We want to make increasing use of the possibilities of electronic data linkage’, says Professor Wessely, ‘reflecting the fact that the UK and US have been fighting the same war, on the same terrain, against the same enemy and taking the same casualties, and yet there are many differences in the impact that deployment has had between our two countries, not least in the rate of mental health problems. We want to explore what might be the reasons for this.’