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Honoring the Military on Memorial Day

When someone leaves the military, the military doesn’t always necessarily leave them. After they’re discharged, veterans might struggle with physical injuries, trauma, and other conditions, sometimes for years. Unfortunately, such conditions are common. A study of more than 20,000 veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom (the Iraq War) and Operation Enduring Freedom (the War in Afghanistan) reported that 13.5 percent have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Other numbers are even more alarming. “It is estimated that about 30 out of every 100 (or 30%) of Vietnam veterans have had PTSD in their lifetime,” according to the National Center for PTSD at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Combat can cause PTSD, but so can other experiences that are related to military service. For example, among the women who used Veterans Affairs health services:
  • 23 percent said that they experienced sexual assaults while they were in the military.
  • 55 percent said that they “experienced sexual harassment when in the military,” according to the National Center for PTSD.
Sexual assault is a major contributor to trauma and PTSD. Trauma and PTSD can cause further problems. To deal with their trauma and PTSD, people might use drugs and alcohol to soothe their pain and become dependent or addicted on the substances. This can harm them and even kill them. Or, such substance abuse may contribute to suicide. As a consequence, people in the military may die in combat, but they also die from other conditions that are related to their military service. On Memorial Day, we recognize the toll that military service can take. We recognize that this toll can be fatal, but it doesn’t have to be. We can honor those that paid the ultimate sacrifice, and we can work to ensure that service members and veterans don’t do the same thing. Sources publichealth.va.gov – “PTSD in Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans” ptsd.va.gov – “How Common Is PTSD in Veterans?” sunshinebehavioralhealth.com – PTSD and Addiction sunshinebehavioralhealth.com – Resources for Veterans

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