Managing Service-Induced Illnesses in Our Soldiers

Though many people honor those who serve in the military, they don’t often consider the many risks these soldiers take when serving their country. Soldiers are not only exposed to the hazards of war, they may also be exposed to toxic substances and suffer overwhelming mental distress. An understanding of these issues will help to give them the care that they so richly deserve.

Physical Health Hazards

Soldiers must worry about the hazards of bullets and bombs on an ongoing basis. They may know of the other types of hazards that their service entails, such as working with toxic compounds or exposure to burning toxins in the environment that routinely occur in war zones. Exposure to asbestos in old, crumbling buildings can lead to respiratory diseases, such as mesotheliomaand pulmonary hypertension. Mesothelioma (What is mesothelioma?)  can cause chest pain, shortness of breath, swelling of the feet, weight loss and night sweats. Pulmonary hypertension can cause shortness of breath, reduced exercise tolerance, fainting and heart failure. Often, the symptoms do not manifest for many years after the exposure to hazardous materials.

Mental Health Hazards

In addition to the physical risks our military routinely takes, they may be subject to a number of mental and psychological effects that can last for many years after service. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a condition in which the soldier may relive the traumatic events of war. Frequent nightmares occur, and certain “triggers” that remind them of the event brings renewed distress. The veteran may avoid crowds or avoid activities that are similar to those around the traumatic event. The soldier may feel either numb or keyed up. If these symptoms last for more than three months, the person should seek treatment for PTSD. In addition, military veterans often experience depression and substance abuse problems that can disrupt their lives and relationships. These problems require professional help by counselors that understanding the unique problems of military service.

Getting Treatment For Service-Induced Illnesses

Having a service-induced illness properly diagnosed can be one of the most challenging problems a soldier can encounter once he or she returns home. The support of family members can be critically important for the service member during the diagnosis and treatment process. The good news is that military veterans can be helped with proper treatment. Getting them the care they need is best way to return them to a productive life outside the service.
About the Author: As the Community Outreach Director for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, Emily Walsh dedicates much of her time building cancer awareness through social media and blogging.


9 thoughts on “Managing Service-Induced Illnesses in Our Soldiers

  1. Such an important issue that does not get much “press.” These soldiers and their families need better supports to help integrate them back into “normal” society. Thank you for highlighting this.

  2. These people give so much, some of them their lives for our freedom. It’s great that you’re highlighting such an important issue. They deserve it.

    Besos, Sarah
    Zookeeper at Journeys of The Zoo

  3. I, sadly didn’t know much about this either. Thank you for enlightening me. I’ve heard the term mesothelioma a lot, but didn’t really understand it.

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