The American veteran population is a unique population. Different military experiences and different military service branches added by different wartime areas among veterans create a truly multifaceted population. Unfortunately, these brave individuals who defended their country in various corners of the world, also have a wide range of health problems and conditions.
The examination of medical records of American veterans in 2015 revealed that one-third of them was diagnosed with at least one mental health disorder. These disorders are related to their military experiences, and often they are accompanied by substance use disorders.
Thus, studying what wellness means for veterans and ways of achieving it becomes an important task for public health organizations.
In this article, we’re going to address this task.
Why is Wellness Important for Veterans?
Numerous scientific studies suggest that veterans in American are a vulnerable population, both in terms of physical and mental health issues. For example, the rate of suicides among female veterans is 35 per 100,000, which is significantly higher than their civilian counterparts.
Veteran status is also linked to a higher risk of a number of diseases, including heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, respiratory diseases, dementia, and others.
One reason for such health disparities was described by a recent study published in the International Journal of Mental Health Systems. According to the examination of the current state of mental health in veterans, most of them lack meaningful access to quality mental health services.
Moreover, other studies showed that many veterans didn’t engage in health-seeking behavior because of limited access to affordable and convenient healthcare.
Clearly, achieving physical and mental wellness is critical for veterans.
How to Achieve Wellness for Veterans?
Given the complexity of the problem, one good way to approach it is to look at what has already been proven as successful.
For veterans, it is critically important to achieve emotional well-being because they are a high-risk group when it comes to depression and suicide. What strategies can work to improve emotional well-being in this unique population?
A group of researchers from the University of Michigan recently conducted a study that once again supported the truth that there is no medicine quite like being outdoors. According to the results, participation in outdoor recreation was directly linked with higher psychological well-being among veterans.
Jason Duvall, one of the researchers involved in the study, said: “The findings suggest that extended group-based nature recreation can have significant positive impacts on veterans struggling with serious health problems.”
These results are also supported by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Here’s how veterans can achieve higher psychological well-being:
An easy and affordable activity is to take a route through the park, forest, or other suitable places. Put on your hiking shoes, take a bottle of water, and you’re good to go.
Another activity that you can do anywhere, anytime, and it is known to provide relaxation and stress relief.
Helps to increase body awareness, reduce muscle tension, relieve stress, calm the nervous system, and sharpen attention and concentration.
Even though this activity can be a bit extreme for many people, you can also begin with basics by joining the local club.
Resources for Veterans to Improve Wellness
Military OneSource – this is a service created by the Department of Defense for veterans and their families. Well-being is one of the areas in which the specialists of Military OneSource can help you, 24/7.
VoxxLife – the company that helps to achieve wellness improve the quality of life using superior technology for people of all ages. The services are provided by medical and wellness thought leaders and practitioners.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Mental Health Resources – you can find everything you need on the health of veterans on this site. Veterans’ health and well-being is a major section, and provides useful resources and information on the effort to improve health of this population.
National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – was created as a part of the Department of Veterans Affairs to help veterans battle PTSD through local assistance, online programs, and research.
The National Resource Directory (NRD) – another great resource website that helps veterans and their families to find local programs and services that support them. The list of programs includes housing, employment, health, and many others.
Moving Forward – free online program created by the Department of Veterans Affairs to teach veterans overcome stressful problems and improve quality of life.
The Bottom Line
The evidence shows that veteran population in the U.S. is a high-risk group that needs attention and care in terms of both physical and mental health. However, achieving wellness is possible because there are many resources designed specifically for veterans. Also, exercising can also go a long way in helping to improve emotional well-being and improve quality of life.
The key to achieving wellness for veterans is to equip them with sufficient knowledge and tools to resolve any issues and provide appropriate support. These people certainly deserve to be valued and supported.