Military Health History Pocket Card

June 25, 1950 - July 27, 1953
Total who served in all Armed Forces: 5,720,000

Battle Deaths: 33,741
Other Deaths (In Theatre): 2,833
Wounded: 103,284
Medals of Honor: 131

Unique Health Risks
Summary of War

The Korean War was fought from 1950 until 1953 and pitted the United States, South Korea and their UN allies against North Korea and the Chinese Communists.

Cold injuries including frostbite and immersion (trench) foot constituted a major medical problem for U.S. service personnel during the Korean War. Veterans of the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir are recognized as having suffered especially high rates of severe cold injuries. Cold accounted for 16% of Army nonbattle injuries requiring admission and over 5000 U.S. casualties of cold injury required evacuation from Korea during the winter of 1950-1951.

In many instances U.S. Service members did not seek or were unable to obtain medical care after cold injuries because of battlefield conditions. Documentation of such injuries may never have been made in their service medical records or may no longer be available.

It is important for VA staff examining and caring for veterans who have experienced cold injuries to be familiar with the recognized long-term and delayed sequelae. These include peripheral neuropathy, skin cancer in frostbite scars (including in such locations as the heels and earlobes), arthritis in involved areas, chronic tinea pedis, fallen arches and stiff toes, nocturnal pain, and cold sensitization. These cold-related problems may worsen as veterans grow older and develop complicating conditions such as diabetes and peripheral vascular disease, which place them at higher risk for late amputations.

Veterans' questions regarding cold injury compensation claims should be addressed to the appropriate VA Regional Office, telephone 800-827-1000.


Department of Veterans Affairs Website
Veterans Health Initiative
Independent study courses developed to recognize the connection between certain health effects and military service.

Department of Veterans Affairs Website
Office of Public Health and Environmental Hazards