Veterans often face health risks such as major depression and mental health issues due to the nature of the work they do. Armed forces services affect the aspects of relationships as well as physical and mental wellbeing.
Military life may have positive effects on well-being but the intensity and type of service and transition to civilian living can have negative consequences. These negative consequences, coupled with an increase in the veteran population, represent the need to focus on the social, mental, and physical wellbeing of veterans.
Veterans are committed to their military careers and accept the exposures that put them at health risks. They are aware of how unique their roles are compared to those of other civilians. They are also aware that should they need to transit to the civilian workforce, they have to find veteran-friendly employers, which is also challenging.
An important factor that impacts veteran health relates to their demographics, including age, socioeconomic status, and identification. The demographic data is important when considering illnesses, diseases, and injuries, unique to their work that determines the veterans' health status. It is important to identify the whole scope of injuries, diseases, and illnesses and how these can impact the health of veterans in the course of their duties.
The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) in America is responsible for providing healthcare services to registered veterans who meet the enrollment requirements. However, not all registered veterans receive services from VHA. The majority of them receive healthcare through the healthcare system of the civilians.
Veterans receive such services through Tricare, private insurance, and other VHA sponsored programs. There are concerns and questions regarding how equipped the healthcare professionals at the community level are to provide the veterans with the services they need.
Some veterans deployed in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq return home with serious behavioral and mental health problems. These problems coupled with military-related ailments may lead to substance use disorders (SUDs), making some of them commit suicide.
Male veterans with binge or heavy drinking, depression, and manic depressive disorders are at a higher risk of committing suicide. Therefore, identifying and dealing with mental-health complications can help to reduce the risk of suicide. Some veterans are reluctant to find help, making diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses difficult.
Veterans with specific mental issues should seek therapy, medication, and counseling, or a combination of these. They should be encouraged to take charge of their treatment and live meaningful and fulfilled lives.
Health service psychologists, including counseling and clinical psychologists, provide behavioral and mental health care services. These include screening, assessment, counseling, psychotherapy, prevention, treatment, supervision, and consultation. They collaborate with other health care providers to conduct scientific research to help people with mental health challenges.
Military veterans are exposed to risks of injuries in the course of their duties, causing impairments or major life threats. However, it is not clear whether the physical health problems are directly linked to their military service or are a result of aging. Common injuries include lost limbs, gunshot wounds, brain and head injuries, strains and sprains, and limited motion range, among others.
Many veterans experience some kind of physical challenge, hindering them from performing their duties. They should be encouraged to do stress-relieving exercises such as jogging and walking.
Most veterans engage in limited physical exercises and this increases the risk of ailments such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Although high cholesterol and high blood pressure may seem less dangerous compared to injuries, they are life-threatening to individuals.
The eating habits of veterans are also a major concern, with many of them consuming small portions of fruits and vegetables daily. Some eat significant amounts of fried food, which are associated with raising cholesterol.
Veterans are more exposed to the risk of homelessness and substance abuse than civilians. Studies reveal that female and male veterans are more prone to homelessness than non-veterans, although the trend has reduced over time. Veterans have the key risk factors for homelessness like other people, with the most consistent and strongest ones being low income, mental illnesses, and substance abuse.
The common risk factors for veterans include social isolation after being discharged from the military and low pay. Exposure to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may not play a significant role in the homelessness of veterans because veterans with mental issues can obtain veteran affairs (VA) services when the need arises.
In addition to homelessness and substance abuse, violent and aggressive behavior is also notable among veterans. The incidences of violence and aggression vary and can be noted concerning the absence or presence of PTSD. The aggressive behavior includes hetero-aggressive or interpersonal violence and autoaggressive or suicidal violence.
Veterans should be encouraged to seek medical help from VA. Clinicians should also conduct violence risk assessments and validate the risk factors among the affected veterans. The risk factors that may be considered relevant include violence history and the presence of PTSD. The clinicians should avoid underrating the significance of contextual factors compared to individual-level factors.
Veterans are prone to health-related issues and so it is important to pay attention to their mental, physical and social well-being. The veteran's mental, physical, and social wellbeing is closely interconnected because a problem in any of the areas is a risk factor to other areas. Thus, there is a perceived value of integrating the healthcare of veterans across the mental, physical and social domains in taking care of military members.
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