While military deployments are obviously fraught with risks to life and limb, other health conditions disproportionately affect those who serve, as well. Most common of these are:
This is not such a surprise. The Veteran’s Administration reports that post-traumatic stress disorder is one of the most common reasons that veterans seek treatment. Many of them witnessed a brutal reality when deployed during combat. Facing PTSD head-on and treating it with the help of a mental health professional improves quality of life for returning veterans.
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Before being aware of the dangers of asbestos exposure, it was common for troops to spend a lot of time around the substance. Once upon a time, the military routinely relied on asbestos due to its fireproof nature. Decades later, veterans still present with a rare form of cancer called mesothelioma (what is mesothelioma?). It soon became apparent that asbestos was the leading culprit in the development of mesothelioma cancer. While no longer used by the military, veterans continue dealing with the reality of mesothelioma. Even today, veterans are being diagnosed with mesothelioma from long ago exposure to asbestos. This is because the symptoms may take decades to surface. Treatment depends on the stage of the cancer at diagnosis. The options include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or any combination thereof.
The deployment of over two million troops since September 11, 2001 has led to a rapid increase in the number of military members being diagnosed with several respiratory conditions. Iraq and Afghanistan veterans faced exposure to environmental toxins, which led to illnesses such as bronchiolitis and asthma. Troops who never had any prior lung problems are being hit the hardest by respiratory consequences of deployment. Some researchers have pinpointed similar symptoms present in Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. This group of symptoms is called Iraq-Afghanistan War lung injury. Exposure to dust, smoke from burn pits, aerosol chemicals, shock waves caused by bomb blasts, airborne toxins, mold and exhaust fumes all contribute to the development of such a lung disease. Studies show that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans develop lung problems at seven times the rate of any other veteran group. Veterans of Iraq and/or Afghanistan should visit their primary care physician as soon as any symptoms, like shortness of breath or the feeling of congestion, present themselves. Only with a thorough examination of the symptoms can an effective treatment protocol be developed.
Again, thank you Emily for passing on this valuable information. So much of what you talk about has to do with our soldiers responding to their needs regarding their health. Hopefully we've prompted someone to take the BIG first step to recovery.