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According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, between 1775 and 1991, the US military recorded 651,031 battle deaths and 539,054 non-combat deaths, totaling 1.19 million fatalities.

Record-keeping has become more efficient in recent years. From 1980 to 2022, there were 60,770 recorded deaths, of which 50,789 (or 83.6%) were due to accidents, illness, and self-inflicted wounds.

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How many soldiers die in accidents?

Between 1980 and 2022, 28,995 soldiers died as a result of accidents, which include vehicle crashes and alcohol or substance abuse. Fortunately, accidental deaths have fallen 83% since 1980.

How many soldiers die by suicide?

Since more thorough data collection began in 1980, the prevalence of military deaths caused by self-inflicted injuries — a category that includes all apparent suicide attempts — has increased. These incidents have become the most common cause of death in the military, rising 44.1% since 1980.

Notably, self-inflicted injuries are the only cause of death in military records to demonstrate a consistent upward trend since 1980. In 2019, 1.6% of veterans ages 18-25 reported attempting suicide in the past year, up from 0.9% in 2009.

In contrast, deaths from other causes, such as accidents, homicides, and illnesses, have all declined by 65% or more during the same timeframe.

What was the US’s most deadly war?

In terms of overall casualties, World War II resulted in 1,076,245 dead and wounded Americans during the nation’s four-year involvement. This war accounts for approximately 41% of US military casualties across the major conflicts recorded by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs between 1775 and 1991.[1]

The American Civil War holds the record for the highest casualty rate of any major American conflict, with 498,332 deaths and 281,881 wounded. Nearly a quarter of all service members from both the Union and the Confederacy either died or were injured.

Over the last 250 years, the US has engaged in dozens of different conflicts, ranging from World War II — the deadliest conflict in both US and human history — to individual operations and disputes around the world.

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How many US service members died in Afghanistan and Iraq?

From the onset of military operations in October 2001 to February 2024, the United States has incurred a total of 60,618 casualties. This includes 7,085 military fatalities and 53,533 wounded service members.

The US global war on terrorism began following the September 11th attacks carried out by Al Qaeda operatives. The resulting conflict led to US invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq to remove the regimes of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein from power.

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How long was the US in Afghanistan?

The two principal military operations conducted in Afghanistan are Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. Beginning in 2001, Operation Enduring Freedom was launched to combat terrorism and counter the Taliban insurgency, concluding in 2014.

Subsequently, Operation Freedom's Sentinel was initiated in 2014, focusing on training and assisting the Afghan military. This operation culminated in August 2021 with the withdrawal of US troops and military support.

How long was the US in Iraq?

Three major military operations were conducted in Iraq: Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn, and Operation Inherent Resolve. Initiated in 2003, Operation Iraqi Freedom aimed to oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein based on allegations of developing and stockpiling weapons of mass destruction. The operation concluded in 2010. Following this, Operation New Dawn commenced with a reduced force, focusing on stabilizing Iraq by advising its security forces.

Since 2014, Operation Inherent Resolve has been providing ongoing support to the Iraqi Security Force. In 2017, the last time the DoD released regular updates on the status of the operation, the US-led coalition had conducted 13,331 airstrikes in Iraq and 11,235 airstrikes in Syria, with total operations costing $14.3 billion at the time, or a daily average of $13.6 million.

What are the military benefits after someone dies?

Families of US military personnel who have lost a loved one in the line of duty may be eligible for a range of benefits. These typically include Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, a monthly benefit paid to eligible survivors. The Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance program provides education and training opportunities. There may also be burial allowances, healthcare benefits through TRICARE, and access to military housing or housing allowances.

Generally, the deceased service member's spouses, children, and sometimes dependent parents are eligible for these benefits. Eligibility criteria can vary based on the service member's length and type of service, as well as the circumstances of their death.

Where does this data come from?

Data on historical casualty figures from America’s wars between 1775 and 1991 comes from a 2023 analysis conducted by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, using data from the Defense Manpower Data Center. Data collected before World War I is based on incomplete records, making authoritative figures from conflicts difficult to attain.

Data on casualties during the War on Terror come from regularly updated Casualty Status reports from the Department of Defense, along with reports on individual operations, such as Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Data on Operation Inherent Resolve is continually updated due to the ongoing conflict.

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U.S. Active duty military deaths by year and manner 1980-2022
Last updated
August 2023
Principal wars in which the United States participated - U.S. Military Personnel (1775-1996)
Last updated
August 2023
Office of Public Affairs
Casualty Status
Last updated
February 13, 2024
[1]

This is in no way a comprehensive overview of the total number of US military casualties experienced between 1775 and 1991, as record keeping for minor conflicts, disputes, and non-battle deaths are is incomplete for most of this period.