Written By Lewis Robinson / Reviewed By Ray Spotts
Veterans make up seven percent of the population in the United States, which equates to approximately 18 million individuals. This portion of the populace requires a great amount of specialized care.
Veterans have experienced situations unlike those of most civilians so their healthcare needs to be tailored and multi-dimensional. Along with the medical conditions they face as a result of their service, they also may experience psychosocial and mental health challenges that can have a profound impact on their physical health.
While assisting veterans with improving their physical health, it is important to also address the non-medical aspects of their healthcare that can exacerbate their medical conditions.
Address Social Determinants of Health
Social determinants of health (SDOH) are a set of factors that, when compounded, can negatively affect the physical health of any individual. Some examples of SDOH include housing instability, lack of access to food, and inadequate employment opportunities. Veterans are one portion of the population who are at greater risk of experiencing these health-related social needs.
Homelessness or housing instability can greatly impact the healthcare that veterans receive. A person worried about not having a place to sleep at night may not have the time or mental energy it takes to attend their medical appointments.
For veterans experiencing homelessness, there are federal programs in each state directed at finding emergency housing. Veterans facing less emergent housing issues may be interested in a VA home loan. These loans are easier to access than traditional home loans and can offer lower interest rates and options with no down payment.
Food access is closely tied to employment status. A veteran returning home from active duty who does not have a job lined up may not have the funds to adequately feed themselves. Luckily, the Department of Veterans Affairs offers many resources to assist veterans with employment opportunities during their transition home.
Ensure Appropriate Access to Medical Care
Veterans may face a variety of medical complications not experienced by the general public. Loss of limbs, traumatic brain injuries, and severe burns are just a couple of examples of the types of medical conditions veterans may come up against. These conditions require specialized medicine as well as intensive rehabilitation.
Assisting with transportation to and from appointments may be one way to ensure veterans can access the care they need. Some appointments can take several hours, leaving little time or energy to complete the necessary tasks required for daily living.
Helping out with grocery shopping, yard work, and general house upkeep can go a long way in ensuring they are able to attend medical appointments without neglecting other important aspects of their lives.
Encourage Engagement With Mental Health Care
Approximately 730,000 active duty or returning civilians experience post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression as a result of their time serving in the military. Less than 50 percent of these individuals receive care for the mental illness they are experiencing.
Many times their illness may go unnoticed as they feel they cannot talk to family or friends about the struggles they are experiencing. Recurring nightmares, avoidance of particular situations, and lack of interest in activities once enjoyed are just a couple examples of symptoms that could point to a veteran experiencing mental health struggles.
It is imperative that a family member or trusted friend offer assistance to any veteran in their life who may be displaying these signs.
Service members returning to civilian life after deployment face a multitude of obstacles during their adjustment period. The list above is by no means exhaustive. The unique nature of their experiences makes it easy for veterans to suffer in silence.
It is not uncommon for them to feel as though the people close to them would not understand how they are feeling. Sometimes the individuals close to them may need to be the first to reach out and offer assistance. It is important for veterans to know that, while friends and family may not fully understand what they are going through, they are willing and able to help.
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Lewis Robinson is a freelance writer and expert in health and fitness. When he isn’t writing he can usually be found reading a good book or hitting the gym.
Founder Ray Spotts has a passion for all things natural and has made a life study of nature as it relates to health and well-being. Ray became a forerunner bringing products to market that are extraordinarily effective and free from potentially harmful chemicals and additives. For this reason Ray formed Trusted Health Products, a company you can trust for clean, effective, and healthy products. Ray is an organic gardener, likes fishing, hiking, and teaching and mentoring people to start new businesses. You can get his book for free, “How To Succeed In Business Based On God’s Word,” at www.rayspotts.com.