Soldiers in the armed forces make great sacrifices for the safety and honor of their country. In doing so, military officials have to deal with different health problems in the line of duty compared to ordinary people. During active service, military officers suffer numerous injuries. While some injuries may be minor and lead to a speedy recovery, often, they are severe enough to result in a major cause of concern. Some injuries can also result in chronic pain and impact their quality of life.
Common Health Issues In Veterans
Some of the most common problems retired military officers encounter are those associated with wounds sustained during active duty. Sprains and strains in muscles and joints are often the foremost health concerns veterans face resulting in limited mobility, especially in the ankles and knees. Tinnitus and partial deafness are also common because of prolonged exposure to loud noise on the battlefield.
Pollution from the surrounding environment can also endanger the health of military officers. Dirty water, toxic chemicals, and infections due to unhygienic conditions are all prevalent among military men. Mesothelioma is also extremely common among veterans due to the widespread exposure to asbestos during military service. Since the onset of mesothelioma symptoms often occurs 20-50 years after asbestos exposure, this puts veterans who served up to the 1980s at risk. Hence, it is also common to see veterans with mesothelioma diagnosed very late.
Other than that, veterans are also prone to mental health problems like PTSD or Anxiety disorders after the traumatic years of serving. These health issues make it all the more important for veterans to pay special attention to their health and wellness.
The following tips will help you maintain a healthy lifestyle to ensure your mental and physical well-being after retirement.
1. Get a primary care doctor
After retirement, it is always advisable to have a reliable primary care doctor because some of the injuries you sustained earlier may start acting up. For example, you might have to seek urgent medical aid if you cannot properly treat any of your old bullet wounds or scars during service. Hence it is most reasonable to have a sound healthcare plan under the guidance of a primary healthcare doctor.
A doctor will monitor your vitals and determine any undiagnosed health issues promptly. Often underlying chronic conditions that people are unaware of can cause a lot of discomfort. For example, undiagnosed arthritis in retired military men can lead to unbearable joint pain. However, proper medication and slight lifestyle changes can ease discomfort and help you feel better. Your primary care doctor will also notify you of the appropriate vaccinations to strengthen your immune system.
2. Regular Exercise & Healthy Diet
Regular exercise and a balanced diet are paramount in maintaining physical and mental health among veterans who need to avoid indulging in a sedentary life. The National Institute of Health claims that regular light physical activity, such as a stroll in the park, can assist in maintaining a consistent weight while preventing chronic health problems.
Retired army officers can also consult a dietician and draft a weekly meal plan with carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in correct proportions.
3. Get enough sleep
Military men are also at risk for sleep deprivation because when on active duty, most soldiers barely manage to get five hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. Sometimes they have to be up all night for a shift or wake up in the middle of the night for a spontaneous excursion or exercise. For many military officers, their sleep problems continue after their military service is over. After returning home, they have to unlearn their acquired sleep habits and condition their bodies to new sleep habits. They have to realign their biological clock to a normal sleep cycle.
Hence after retirement, military officers must seek expert advice in correcting their sleeping patterns and managing at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep. Doing so will prevent drowsiness during the day and boost concentration and motivation, helping you focus.
4. Apply for VA benefits
If you struggle to cover the additional cost of treatments for your mental health problems or physical disabilities, you should consider applying for VA benefits. The US Department of Veterans Affairs aims to provide all kinds of assistance to retired soldiers for the sacrifices they make. It helps compensate for any permanent injury or disability connected with active duty and pays for health care services, including physical therapy, nursing, etc.
The foremost step in securing VA benefits involves answering a questionnaire through the VA Health Benefits Explorer to decide whether you are eligible. After gaining an idea about your eligibility status, you can request benefits online and obtain an official decision from the Veterans Administration.
5. Focus on mental health
Your mental and physical health go hand in hand. Mental health issues are common among war veterans, and it can be challenging to deal with them while striving to stay physically fit. Unpleasant experiences like active combat, tragedies, invasions, and sexual assault can lead to PTSD and depression after retirement. The smallest reminders of the past can trigger episodes of paranoia and anxiety, which last for days at a time, and coping with them can be difficult for veterans and their families.
To cope with these feelings and to address any lingering mental health issues, retired military men must seek professional therapy where they will undergo regular counseling to help them face their emotions and adjust to civilian life.
6. Join a Support Group
Perhaps the best health tip for retired military officers is to join a support group of like-minded men and women who have gone through the same circumstances as you and are currently facing the same problems while adjusting to a new life. This feeling of belonging to a community of similar people will give you the strength and courage to face the challenges at hand and construct a better life for yourself after retiring.
As a retired military officer, you have sacrificed most of your life and energy fighting to safeguard your country. Now that your days of active combat are over and you have retired, it is time that you relax and focus on your mental and physical well-being. With the help of the tips noted above, you can establish a lifestyle that will boost your health so that you can spend quality time with your family and live your life to the fullest.