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The mental challenges of post-war life

When they return to the United States after serving in combat, many veterans face a significant amount of serious health challenges. Some of these are mental issues, which often are not as clear-cut as physical issues. They can impact relationships, make it so that the veterans cannot return to work and change the entire course of their lives.

Some of the most common mental woes are:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Addiction — especially the abuse of alcohol
  • Violent behavior

In one study, the rate of significant impairment due to just depression or PTSD came in between 8.5 and 14 percent.

There are some interesting links between mental and physical issues. It’s sometimes hard to define exactly what a military veteran is dealing with.

“Folks returning from combat have a constellation of health concerns, including physical issues, psychological issues and psychosocial issues concerning things like work and family,” said a doctor who works closely with this population. “The interesting thing is, we see this after all wars. We think it’s a reflection of the duress and intensity of the situation. They’re worn out, hurting and it’s kind of hard to think straight.”

When mental and physical issues combine, it can be impossible for life to ever feel normal again. For example, some studies have found that veterans who got diagnosed with PTSD also had sleep apnea in 54 percent of cases. Many veterans also came down with dementia, a degenerative brain disease, more often than the average person.

What is clear is that war takes a heavy toll on those who serve and protect the United States, and it’s not easy for them to overcome these challenges when they get out. That’s why it is so important for them to know all of the legal options they have for things like financial assistance.

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