The United States has the most powerful and effective military force in the world, and has a spending of $598.5 billion dollars, which makes up 54% of the federal government’s spending. For a military that big and prestigious, you need soldiers willing to fight and the United States has currently 20 million veterans living in the country today. Veterans face different sorts of health problems as opposed to the average civilian, and these different issues should be made aware to everyone, from family and friends, to the healthcare professionals. In the field of medicine and battle, advancements have been made, and now soldiers can survive situations that were once considered fatal. However in place of physical permanent damage and even death, a veteran’s mind may be psychologically scarred. The most important aspect of helping veterans recover from these psychological wounds is helping them reintegrate into the civilian lifestyle after months or even years of seeing nothing but violence and bloodshed.
If you wish to learn more about the health issues that veterans face, especially after a tour of duty, the US National Library of Medicine has an article called “US Veterans and their unique issues: enhancing health care professional awareness” that can be accessed here; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4671760/
Mental Health Disorders
Of the previously mentioned 20 million veterans residing in the United States, 33% of them are diagnosed with some form of mental illness with effects ranging from minor to crippling. Of the 33% of those veterans only one third of them actually seek medical treatment while others remain silent due to the shame and embarrassment of admitting the cracks in their mental health, however as they say “The first step to solving a problem is admitting that you have one in the first place.” This is where the family and friends of the veteran must come together and assure him or her that there is nothing to be ashamed of and they only want to help them make a full recovery.
Substance Abuse Disorders
Military work is a stressful job, requiring soldiers to be alert and vigilant at all times. Due to the stressful nature of the environment it is little wonder why veterans turn to substance abuse in order to cope. In fact veterans have a higher tobacco and alcohol consumption rate compared to the rest of the United States population. The problem here is not necessarily the substance itself, but rather an underlying mental condition such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that if treated, greatly diminishes the substance abuse and consumption in some veterans. Sometimes, however long term care is required in order to get the best results.
While not exclusive to veterans as there have been many cases of everyday civilians being diagnosed PTSD, veterans are one of the most susceptible to this mental disorder. PTSD is the result of witnessing a traumatic experience whether directly or indirectly. According to The American Psychiatric Association, PTSD has four symptoms; intrusive symptoms (flashbacks), avoidance of reminders (isolation), negative thoughts and feelings, and exaggerated reactivity symptoms. One of the best ways to aid in the treatment of PTSD is social support from family and friends alike.
Depression is one of the most treatable mental disorders that could plague a veteran. The National Alliance on Mental Illness claims that 14% of Veterans have depression, however this number is most likely higher due to a misdiagnosis or a underdiagnosis by medical professionals. Luckily the veterans that do have depression and seek treatment have an 80-90% chance of the treatment succeeding in curing their depression. The most important thing to do if you know a veteran who is currently facing depression is to talk them and offer assistance in helping them treat their depression. Make it a point to let them know that having depression or being depressed is not a form of weakness and that it can easily be treated with the help of a medical professional.
It is a difficult transition from the battlefield to the city streets, but with the help of the their families, private health care, and the Department of Veteran affairs the path back to civilian life for a veteran can be a much smoother road for all involved. If you wish to learn more or seek solutions to your current predicament, please do not hesitate to contact our office for assistance.