6 Common Health Problems Faced by Veterans
As a nation, we owe a lot to our veterans for their selfless services and sacrifices to defend our country. When it comes to serving the country, veterans have always been at the forefront of every battle. However, even after they return home from active duty, many veterans continue to face significant health challenges.
These health problems can range from physical injuries to mental health disorders, and the statistics are staggering. While there are many health problems that veterans can face, some of the most common include the following:
Exposure to hazardous substances can lead to various health problems for veterans. For instance, veterans exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War may be at a higher risk of experiencing lymphatic disorders, blood disorders, and prostate problems.
One common health problem faced by veterans as a result of hazardous exposures is respiratory diseases. Many veterans have been exposed to airborne hazards, such as smoke from burn pits, chemicals used in military operations, and asbestos in older buildings. These exposures can lead to respiratory problems, including asthma, chronic bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Similarly, veterans who served at Camp Lejeune and were exposed to contaminated water may be more likely to develop chronic health conditions, such as congenital disabilities, pancreatic issues, and prostate problems.
The impact of such exposures was significant on the health of many individuals, including military personnel and their families, as seen in the case of Camp Lejeune water contamination birth defects. Studies have shown that pregnant mothers exposed to contaminated water were more likely to give birth to babies with congenital disabilities, including neural tube defects, cleft lip and palate, and heart defects.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
One of the veterans’ most common health problems is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a mental health disorder that occurs after a traumatic event. According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, 11-20% of veterans who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have PTSD. The symptoms of PTSD can include flashbacks, nightmares, and avoidance behavior.
PTSD is a condition that can significantly impact a person’s daily life, relationships, and overall well-being. It can also make it difficult for veterans to adjust to civilian life after they return home from active duty.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Another common health problem veterans face is traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBI can occur due to a blast, a jolt, or a blow to the head. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, memory problems, and mood swings. As per a study conducted by the Defence and Veterans Brain Injury Center, around 414,000 service members have been diagnosed with TBI from 2000 till 2019.
Veterans may suffer from musculoskeletal injuries as a result of physical training, carrying heavy equipment, or exposure to hazardous environments. These injuries can include back pain, joint pain, and other types of chronic pain.
Physical injuries such as amputations and spinal cord injuries are also common among veterans. These types of injuries can occur due to combat or training accidents, exposure to explosive devices, or other hazardous situations. A study estimates that around 10% of limb amputations in the US are performed annually on veterans due to combat-related injuries.
Chronic pain can be challenging to manage and significantly impact a person’s quality of life. Chronic pain is particularly faced by those injured in combat. In addition to traditional pain management techniques such as medication and physical therapy, alternative therapies such as acupuncture and mindfulness meditation have effectively reduced chronic pain.
Substance abuse can occur due to the stress and trauma of combat, leading to physical and mental health problems. Substance abuse is also a common health problem among veterans. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, veterans are more likely than non-veterans to report past-year substance use, binge alcohol use, and heavy alcohol use.
Substance abuse can have a range of adverse effects on a person’s health, including increased risk for accidents and injuries, liver disease, and mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.
Veterans are often exposed to loud noises, gunfire, explosions, and other hazardous sounds while serving. This exposure can lead to hearing loss or tinnitus, a ringing in the ears. According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, hearing loss is the most common service-related disability among veterans.
Veterans face various health challenges after returning home from active duty, including PTSD, TBI, chronic pain, and substance abuse. These health problems can significantly impact a person’s quality of life, and veterans must receive the support and treatment they need to address these issues.
While these issues can be challenging, it’s essential to recognize and address them to support and care for those who have served our country. If you’re a veteran or know someone who is, please encourage them to seek help if they’re experiencing any of these health problems. There are many resources available, and treatment can make a significant difference in improving their quality of life.