HEALTH

6 Tips For Veterans To Stay On Top Of Their Health

There are approximately 16.45 million veterans living in the United States as of 2021. Serving in various armed forces for the sake of your country is a tremendous honor. However, it brings its own set of consequences.

Veterans often endure challenging conditions and live in unsafe places during service, often neglecting their health and well-being.

Exposure to harmful minerals such as asbestos and unsafe water, as seen in places like Camp Lejeune, can harm their health during and after the exposure. Though they cannot do much during service, they must prioritize their health after retirement.

It is important to recognize the services and sacrifices of veterans for the country and ensure they get proper support and resources for maintaining their health after retirement.

Some tips for veterans to stay healthy and safe are mentioned below.

1.      Regular physical and neurological checkups

Veterans must visit healthcare providers for regular physical and neurological health checkups. During service, veterans not only cope with tough living conditions but also serious neurological health issues.

Regular medical checkups allow veterans to identify issues such as diabetes, heart disease, depression, lack of balance, and concentration problems at an early stage. Being proactive regarding their health helps them ensure effective management and treatment for various health issues while they are most treatable.

Veterans who stayed in Camp Lejeune may be particularly vulnerable to neurological health conditions due to potential exposure to Camp Lejeune’s toxic water. They may show signs of Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and more.

Having said that, veterans who stayed in Camp Lejeune for at least a month must undergo proper medical screening for any neurological effects of Camp Lejeune water, such as lack of concentration and coordination, depression, difficulty moving, etc. If diagnosed with a neurological disorder, these veterans can file a lawsuit and receive compensation.

2.      Look after their mental health

According to a study, 37.7% of veterans report experiencing mental health issues such as PTSD, anxiety, and stress, which is alarming.

Here is how veterans can look after their mental health.

·         Mental health issues can significantly challenge your ability to lead a normal, fulfilling life. You must prioritize your mental health through various means, including mindful meditation and group therapy.

·         Meditation helps manage stress by enhancing your focus on the present moment, preventing you from recalling traumatic events of the past. Your heightened awareness of the present allows you to appreciate your surroundings and find greater satisfaction and happiness in your life.

·         In addition to meditation, group therapy helps you break down the stress barriers preventing you from moving forward. You can discuss your issues with those who went through similar situations and receive valuable insights and guidance based on their experience. They may share their own stories and coping mechanisms to help you navigate post-retirement life.

3.      Stay current on vaccinations

The timeless saying that “prevention is better than treatment” can never become irrelevant. Staying up-to-date on your vaccinations is a preventative defense. It prepares your body to counter infectious attacks, such as tetanus, diphtheria, whopping cough, flu, etc.

Vaccination is particularly important for veterans because they often deal with physical injuries, psychological trauma, or compromised immune systems during service. All this makes them more susceptible to infections.

Vaccination can act as a shield against diseases that could exacerbate your existing health challenges. Therefore, you must get vaccinated for all preventable diseases to improve your quality of life.

4.      Develop meaningful social relationships

Social support from friends and family is key to helping veterans stay healthy and safe after retirement. Spending time with friends, going out for a lunch gathering or movie, etc., are great options for fostering meaningful social connections and interactions.

Startlingly, the V.A.—the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs—approximately 17 veterans commit suicide daily. This grim reality is not only deeply alarming but also profoundly saddening, considering everything they have done to safeguard their nation and its people. Among many contributing factors, a lack of social connections significantly contributes to this alarming rate of suicides among veterans.

Establishing relationships can help veterans find meaning and purpose in their lives, giving them more reason to live than taking their own lives.

If you have a veteran in the house, ensure they don’t stay confined to their rooms. Encourage them to spend time with you, sharing meals, chatting, or playing a game of cards. These small but impactful activities will help them fight loneliness and live a much happier life post-retirement.

5.      Receive help for injuries

We all know that service members perform various physically demanding, often dangerous tasks, so it is not unlikely for them to sustain injuries. These injuries can become severe if left untreated, leading to long-term health issues.

When their service ends, veterans must undergo a thorough physical examination and receive help for any injuries sustained during service. From combat wounds to musculoskeletal injuries, veterans must seek specialized medical attention for their minor as well as major issues.

By seeking timely support for their visible or invisible injuries, veterans can ensure a better life for themselves.

6.      Eat the right foods

Eating healthy food is important to living a healthy and happy life. Veterans need to understand that food choices directly impact their health and well-being. Eating a nutrient-dense diet can address all their physical and mental health deficiencies comprehensively. Furthermore, they can receive the following benefits by opting for a healthy diet.

·         A nutrient-rich diet can help veterans manage and prevent chronic health conditions they may have developed during or after service.

·         Conditions like diabetes, heart issues, and obesity are very prevalent among veterans. A wholesome diet containing several types of fruits and veggies, whole grains, etc., can help them manage these problems and ensure better health and well-being.

·         Adequate intake of vitamins and minerals—either through food or other sources—can strengthen their immune system and boost healing.

·         An emphasis on portion control and wholesome foods can aid them in maintaining a healthy weight and preventing obesity.

However, it is important to note that adopting a healthy diet does not mean depriving yourself of what you like. There is no harm in occasionally treating yourself with a cheat meal, but in routine, the focus should remain on eating a healthy and balanced diet.

Conclusion

Veterans have done a great service for their nation and, in the process, have neglected their health, too. However, post-retirement is when they can look after their health by opting for portion control, regular physical training, and prioritizing self-care. These small lifestyle changes will help them see their life as fulfilling and meaningful, promoting contentment.