After you’re discharged from the United States military, adjusting to civilian life can be a bit of a challenge, especially if you’ve made a career out of the military.
Along with the new adjustment can be the added burden of having a health issue to contend with once you finally get your papers and find your way back home. And while many veterans do come home with only minor health difficulties, some aren’t so lucky.
The fact is, a military career comes along with significant risks. You can certainly be killed in combat, but along with this risk comes many others that might not be as readily evident. Whether it’s mental health issues, a disability, or another significantly debilitating physical condition, some are more common than others.
Here in this post, we’ll explore a few common health issues that can affect veterans of any age.
One major risk that all military personnel take is the risk of losing their hearing or developing tinnitus or severe hearing loss.
Being in the military correspondingly means being placed in harm’s way and loud noises. Though the frequency of being placed in harm’s way does fluctuate considerably depending on the branch of service and MOS, the risk is always present no matter your military occupation.
For example, between the years of 2002 and 2015, the United States Department of Defense issued 3M earplugs to protect service members during combat. These earplugs have since been proven defective, and many veterans are considering filing lawsuits for compensation.
Being around loud, repeated blasts, gunfire, and heavy machinery all can take a huge toll on the ability to hear, especially if you don’t wear hearing protection. And many veterans of the armed forces do unfortunately return home with a reduced ability to hear. Although hearing conservation programs have been in place for several decades, veterans still need digital hearing aids.
Another common health problem for veterans concerns respiratory health. While in combat, you’re subjected to a variety of explosions which all include volatile compounds. When inhaled in large amounts, these compounds can irritate the lungs and throat.
Additionally, many military service members also smoke. And the combination of being around toxic fumes, burning debris, gunfire, and chemical aerosols, along with tobacco use, can be detrimental to your respiratory health.
In fact, it’s not uncommon for many veterans to have to undergo years of breathing treatments and several therapies which include prescription medications due to severe respiratory issues. And this is just another reminder of the consequences associated with those who place themselves on the line every day to secure our freedoms here at home.
When the term was less understood, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was often referred to as “shellshock” during the first World War. This was a condition that many believed was caused by the relentless bombing campaigns that occurred during the trench warfare days of the early World Wars.
Today, we know now that PTSD is caused by traumatic events. And as each person handles trauma differently, sometimes this can manifest as PTSD.
PTSD can be triggered by loud noises, violent scenes in movies, or even certain colors and words. And it’s not uncommon for sufferers of PTSD to develop other related mental health issues such as agoraphobia, or even severe cases of depression and bipolar disorder.
Mental health issues are still largely being diagnosed and studied, especially as they relate to veterans who return from war.
As war is one of the most traumatic events that a human can endure, there is little surprise at the amount of PTSD cases that are found within the military, which is thought to be around 10 to 20 percent of all service members.
The United States military is a brotherhood of sorts, no matter the branch in which you serve. As such, all of the brave men and women who choose to serve know the risk before taking the oath. These men and women risk their life and health for our safety, and their actions should never go unappreciated.