Troops Urged to Seek Help for Physical, Mental Injuries
> 5/10/2007 3:35:25 PM

Concern over the well-being of the thousands of troops currently serving in and returning from Iraq has become one of the public health sector's most pressing issues, with hospitals, practicioners and veterans groups worried about what they see as a rising flood of soldiers with urgent health issues that our limited resources will not be able to adequately address. Military health officials have recently gone public with their belief that more extensive pain management on the battlefield may be the best way to stem this tide.

The prevailing attitude of "toughing it out" at the expense of one's own health is not efficient for the soldiers in the field or the mission in which they're engaged. Wounded soldiers are often detrimental to the performance of their units, and doctors say that the most serious wounds are not always the most obvious. While immediate attention must obviously be paid to those with missing limbs or life-threatening injuries, many soldiers are either inable to communicate their own pain or hesitant to do so until asked by superiors or medical professionals, acting on either a fear that disclosing their injuries will disallow their return to duty or a belief that their suffering is insignificant and that they should be able, as soldiers, to handle it on their own.

But notable pains that are either not treated at all or treated inefficiently can ultimately balloon into much larger problems, and that trend is one of the military health care system's main concerns: that the next few years will produce thousands of American soldiers with recurring, debilitating physical or mental afflictions stemming directly from their service in Iraq and Afghanistan. Military experts believe that our pain management practices are antiquated, most often using morphine to sedate patients while flying them to distant facilities rather than using other methods to fully block their pain. A new and encouraging development in this field is the use of nerve blockers, or site-specific anaesthetics that actually stop or significantly reduce the flow of neural pain responses to the brain. These injuries can stem from any number of sources beyond enemy fire or IEDs: many soldiers report chronic knee pain from the stresses of carrying heavy equipment, and others deal with severe anxiety from the stress of battle and other factors like large explosions which may not result in direct injuries but can lead to nerve damage and further neurological problems.

Experts also believe that soldiers should be much more open to seeking help for PTSD, one of the most prominent conditions affecting those who are directly involved in military operations. PTSD disability claims almost doubled from 1999 to 2004 alone, and while many of these came from veterans of Vietnam and other past engagements, our current military clearly needs to develop pre-emptive strategies to curb this rapidly growing epidemic so that our soldiers get better care than their predecessors. A panel of esteemed medical professionals released a report calling on the military to create more effective surveys to determine which troops suffer from PTSD and to encourage (or require) all servicemembers to take them. The VA requires evidence of illness in order to offer compensation to these individuals, and need is often gagued by a veteran's ability (or inability) to hold employment. As a result, many of the soldiers who lead misleading stable lives while suffering from varying levels PTSD do not receive the treatment they need from the nation and the institution that they so bravely served. Increased funding and aggressive action on this issue is not an option. It is an obligation.

No comments yet.

Post Your Comments

Post a comment
Email Address:
Verification Code:
Input the 8 characters you see above:


Drug Abuse
Sexual Addiction
Eating Disorders
Alzheimer's Disease

About TOL | Contact Us | Defining Behavioral Fitness | For Healthcare Professionals | Links | Privacy Policy