Life after military service comes with unique challenges. Many veterans have a hard time transitioning to a civilian lifestyle, finding a decent job, or reconnecting with their family members. However, physical and mental health issues remain the biggest challenge for veterans immediately after retirement. These issues, ranging from minor pain to severe mental health problems, often make the transition to civilian life challenging for many veterans.
In this blog, we’ll explore some common health problems facing former soldiers and veterans and discuss how to cope with them. Overcoming these issues is the key to a healthy life after retiring from the U.S. military.
While mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer, with only 3,000 Americans diagnosed annually, it affects a significant portion of former military personnel, particularly Navy veterans. This higher incidence is linked to the historical use of asbestos in U.S. Navy ships and shipyards.
Managing this life-threatening disease is possible through a combination of therapies and medications. Mesothelioma treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy can extend a patient’s lifespan, while palliative care is essential to improving their quality of life. Given the high costs associated with mesothelioma treatment, exploring VA benefits and legal compensation options is advisable to ease the financial burden on patients.
The Navy veteran mesothelioma compensation is specifically designed to make treatment more affordable and help them successfully cope with this disease. If you or a loved one is affected, consider reaching out to a mesothelioma attorney to explore options for filing a lawsuit and pursuing a Navy asbestos settlement tailored to veterans’ needs.
What was once referred to as ‘shell shock’ during WWI, owing to an imperfect understanding of the condition, is now commonly recognized as PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). It has become a primary health concern among soldiers who are about to retire or have already retired.
Coping with PTSD involves various strategies, and one important aspect is identifying and avoiding triggers. PTSD is characterized by patients experiencing flashbacks of traumatic events and nightmares in which they relive those moments. Various forms of therapy and medication can alleviate these symptoms, reducing the frequency of nightmares over time. Additionally, patients can explore practices like meditation and mindfulness to help regulate their stress and anxiety.
Hearing impairment is a common consequence of exposure to harmful noises from heavy weapons and noisy engine rooms. It often manifests as tinnitus, a condition characterized by persistent ringing and buzzing in the ears. Veterans who regularly work with heavy machinery are more prone to hearing impairment, and over a million veterans are receiving VA benefits for hearing loss, significantly impacting their quality of life.
Some common treatment options to cope with hearing loss include hearing aids and cochlear implants. Additionally, learning simple communication strategies can improve a veteran’s social interactions.
Cochlear implants can work wonders for elderly veterans, as demonstrated by a 102-year-old man who regained his hearing thanks to these devices.
Affecting 3 in 10 veterans, chronic pain conditions are among the most prevalent health issues in ex-soldiers. However, this persistent pain can arise from various reasons, such as phantom limb syndrome, limb loss, spinal cord injuries, or age-related factors. This complexity makes it challenging to pinpoint specific coping strategies for chronic pain. So, what’s the solution to persistent pain among veterans?
In general, chronic pain management involves a combination of regular and sustained exercises, along with medications and treatments that help patients reduce their pain. It’s crucial to explore treatment options tailored to your specific needs and condition to prevent chronic pain from becoming a permanent disability.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are often characterized by a violent object piercing the skull and entering brain tissue, thereby disrupting normal brain functions. Exposure to blasts increases the vulnerability of service members to TBIs, making them the signature battle wounds among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
A traumatic brain injury affects a person’s cognitive abilities. The patient’s attention span is reduced, they become more easily irritated, have trouble processing information, may even develop PTSD, and may gradually fall into depression. Can a soldier with TBI fully recover?
Recovering from TBI is possible in some cases and usually relies on the person’s unique circumstances. A combination of physical, cognitive, and occupational therapy can alleviate general symptoms, significantly improving the patient’s quality of life. TBI recovery is often slow but not impossible.
When serving in faraway lands, American soldiers often acquire unfamiliar infections that can affect their long-term well-being. Despite routine vaccinations against common diseases, service members are more likely to come in contact with diseases rarely encountered by civilians. Here’s a brief breakdown of some of these diseases that veterans may experience later in life:
- Campylobacter Jejnuni: Causes fever, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
- Q Fever: Results in fever, diarrhea, headache, and mild gastrointestinal tract problems.
- Brucellosis: A bacterial disease characterized by profuse sweating and muscle pain.
- Shigella: Presents symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea due to bacterial infection.
- Nontyphoid Salmonella: Leads to gastrointestinal infections and related symptoms.
- West Nile Virus: Carried by mosquitoes, it causes symptoms similar to those mentioned above.
- Leishmaniasis: Spread by sandflies, common symptoms include weight loss, anemia, and spleen enlargement.
Veterans can overcome these infections through proper medical treatment, including antibiotics. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for a better outcome.
In 2019, almost 100,000 veterans were receiving VA benefits for amputations. Lower limb amputations are the most common among ex-soldiers and can lead to several mental health problems, including stress, trauma, and depression. Physical consequences of lower limb amputations include diabetes, chronic pain, and functional impairment. Additionally, amputees often require long-term caregiving.
Most veterans with amputations undergo physical and occupational therapy to regain mobility and adapt to limb loss. A veteran with amputation also learns adaptive techniques for a more independent daily life. Prosthetics further improve their wellness, and assistive devices help them learn to live independently.
Learning about the common health problems that affect veterans can help former soldiers cope with these issues more effectively. Many military veterans have PTSD, depression, hearing loss, infections, and various other serious ailments. In a similar vein, asbestos exposure can lead to mesothelioma among Navy veterans. Therefore, it is important to seek proper treatment for these health problems and consider consulting lawyers to safeguard your legal rights.