The US military is an organization that is both physically and mentally demanding. The work requires service members to be in excellent shape and have high mental toughness.
According to a report by the Department of Defense, over 41 percent of service members said they experienced a physical health problem in the past year. The most common issues were back pain, joint pain, and headaches.
In addition to physical health problems, service members also face mental health challenges. A study by the National Center for PTSD found that about 15 percent of service members deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan met the criteria for PTSD.
However, even the most physically and mentally fit individuals face health challenges during military service. There are a variety of health risks that service members face, both on and off the battlefield.
Some of the most common health challenges faced by military personnel include:
1. Infectious diseases
Service members are at risk of exposure to various infectious diseases during deployments. These diseases can be spread through contact with contaminated food or water, close contact with an infected individual, or contact with contaminated surfaces.
Besides infectious diseases, service members are also at risk for chemical and biological agents exposure. These agents can cause various health problems, including respiratory illnesses, skin irritation, gastrointestinal problems, and cancer.
Mesothelioma is a rare but aggressive form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Military personnel is at an increased risk of developing mesothelioma due to the presence of asbestos in many older buildings on military bases.
In such a situation, it is crucial for military personnel to be vaccinated against common diseases and to follow basic hygiene practices. You can read more information about precautions against deadly cancer at mesotheliomaveterans.org and know about the available treatments.
2. Heat injuries
During the service, soldiers are often required to perform strenuous activities in hot weather conditions. This can lead to heat injuries, such as heat stroke and exhaustion.
The symptoms of heat injuries include dizziness, headache, nausea, confusion, and increased body temperature. If left untreated, heat injuries can be fatal.
In addition to heat injuries, service members also face the risk of cold injuries. These injuries occur when the body is exposed to cold temperatures for extended periods.
Common cold injuries include frostbite and hypothermia. Frostbite is tissue damage due to freezing, while hypothermia is the condition when the body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, cold injuries can be prevented by dressing correctly for the conditions and taking breaks to warm up.
3. Traumatic brain injuries
One of the most common types of injury faced by military personnel is traumatic brain injury (TBI). A blow or jolt causes a TBI to the head that disrupts the brain’s normal function.
TBI can lead to various symptoms, including headaches, dizziness, confusion, memory problems, and mood swings. In severe cases, TBI can be fatal.
Military soldiers are at an increased risk of TBI due to their work. They may be exposed to blasts from improvised explosive devices or gunfire.
In addition, TBI can also occur due to falls, motor vehicle accidents, or sports-related injuries.
4. Stress and anxiety
Another common health challenge faced by military personnel is stress and anxiety. The service members are under a lot of pressure to perform their duties.
This can lead to various mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Military personnel can manage stress and anxiety by practicing healthy coping mechanisms. Some helpful coping mechanisms include exercise, relaxation techniques, and journaling.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, military service members are at a higher risk of developing depression. This is due to the various stressors that come with the job.
These stressors include long hours, separation from family and friends, and exposure to dangerous situations.
Depression is a severe mental health condition that can lead to various problems. These problems include difficulty concentrating, fatigue, sleep problems, and thoughts of suicide.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is vital to seek professional help.
Military service members face many health challenges. However, these challenges can be managed by taking precautions and seeking professional help when needed.
6. Substance abuse
Substance abuse is another common health challenge faced by military personnel. The use of alcohol or drugs can lead to various problems, such as addiction, mental health problems, and legal issues.
Substance abuse can also lead to accidents and injuries. In addition, it can interfere with a service member’s ability to perform their duties.
Substance abuse is a severe problem that should not be taken lightly. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, it is necessary to seek professional help.
7. Post-traumatic stress disorder
You may have already heard of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is a mental health condition that can occur after a traumatic event.
Service members are at a higher risk of developing PTSD due to the nature of their job. They may witness or experience traumatic events, such as combat, that can lead to PTSD.
PTSD can cause various symptoms, including flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, and depression.
As much as we don’t like to think about it, suicide is a real problem faced by military personnel. The stressors of the job can lead to thoughts of suicide.
In addition, service members may have access to firearms, which increases the risk of suicide.
It may seem like there is no way out, but it is important to remember that help is available.
9. Sexual assault
Sexual assault is another serious health challenge faced by military personnel. Unfortunately, sexual assault is a problem in all branches of the military.
Such problems are on the rise but are often under-reported. This is due to the fear of retaliation or further harm.
10. Moral injury
Moral injury is a psychological trauma that can occur when a person witnesses or participates if goes against their values or beliefs.
Service members may be exposed to such events during combat or other traumatic situations.
Moral injury can cause various symptoms, such as guilt, shame, and anger. It can also lead to depression, anxiety, and suicidal
The military is a physically and mentally demanding environment. Service members face various health risks, both on and off the battlefield. However, the military also provides resources to help service members cope with these challenges. If you are struggling with a physical or mental health issue, don’t hesitate to seek help from a military health provider. Remember, you are not alone.