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10 Common Health Issues Faced By Veterans

10 Common Health Issues Faced By Veterans

Table of Contents

Soldiers face a multitude of challenges while serving their country. But what about the challenges they face after retirement? Former soldiers have unique health problems caused by their military career. Researchers have found that veterans who have spent just a few months separated from military service are less satisfied with their health than with their social well-being and employment situation. This alarming study shows that, among 200,000 soldiers transitioning to civilian lifestyles every year, 53% face physical health challenges while 33% face mental health problems. Therefore, boosting the well-being of military veterans has become a challenge for the government in the 21st century.

Since over 42% of Americans aged 75+ have served in the army, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is responsible for the care of both current and former members of the military. It’s one of the most vital resources available to military veterans and helps them deal with various mental/physical health issues. As a veteran, you should be aware of the various VA services available and how to access them. So, read this blog to learn about veterans’ well-being and know which health concerns you can also face.

  • Health Conditions

Veterans can experience a variety of illnesses due to their tough lifestyle, some of which might not be easy to detect. An example of this is mesothelioma, which many navy veterans experience due to asbestos used in navy vessels in the past. However, veterans suffering from this condition can ask for VA benefits and get compensated. You can file a mesothelioma veterans claim and get the funds necessary to prolong your lifespan.

  • Amputations

Amputations account for less than 1% of retired military service members. They don’t just harm the veteran’s everyday functioning but can also lead to mental conditions e.g., “phantom limb” pain. An amputee’s disability ratings is determined by different factors, as explained in the following text:

  • 90% if it’s your dominant arm
  • 80% if it’s your non-dominant arm
  • 60% if your knee joint isn’t usable anymore
  • 40% if the amputation is below your knee joint

Amputees need VA benefits to get prosthetics; these artificial limbs make them more functional and productive post-retirement. So, you can apply for prosthetic appliances if your service-related injury requires you get one and you weren’t dishonorably discharged from the service of the US army.

  • PTSD

What doctors described as “shell shock” in the post-WWI era of medicine has been identified today as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a mental health condition prevalent among vets. Since the ‘80s, PTSD has been known to cause anxiety, insomnia, nightmares, and flashbacks to the traumatic event causing it. Recent studies show that 7% of vets will have PTSD and these vets can receive the much-needed VA benefits to overcome the harmful consequences of this mental health issue.

  • Chemical Exposure

During the Vietnam War, America used a chemical herbicide called Agent Orange against the enemy. But using this chemical had drastic consequences for US soldiers as well as they developed different health issues e.g., diabetes, skin diseases, and heart problems. Moreover, Agent Orange is deemed responsible for birth defects and motor weakness. However, Agent Orange isn’t the only example of chemical exposure and some vets aren’t even aware of what chemicals they were exposed to.

  • Tinnitus

A study from 2018 shows that up to 30% of vets have tinnitus and another study confirms that 90% of people with tinnitus also have hearing loss. Veterans develop this condition after being exposed to long times in their service for a long time. As of 2022, more than 2.5 million vets are getting VA benefits for this disorder. Tinnitus can affect patients’ everyday functioning and they need devices e.g., white-noise machines to relax. So, if you have tinnitus, contact VA for disability benefits.

  • Shrapnels Wounds

Veterans sustaining shrapnel wounds are given a disability rating of 10%, indicating they are eligible for receiving VA benefits. “Shrapnels” are described as fragments from bombs, shells, and IEDs, and they can lead to long-term health effects e.g., pain, infection, and muscle damage. Moreover, since shrapnels are longer and larger than bullets, shrapnel wounds are more dangerous. They may cause permanent scarring or even turn into tumors thereby affecting a vet’s post-retirement living.

  • Chronic Pain

It’s normal for veterans to suffer from chronic pain after coming back home; studies show that 80% of Operation Enduring Freedom vets have chronic pain. This condition also explains why vets often develop addictive behaviors. This pain can last for 3 to 4 months; veterans seek different treatment options to overcome this condition.  However, veterans don’t receive disability ratings for chronic pain itself; they can get rated for the symptoms e.g., depression emerging from their condition.

  • TBI

Military service members call Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) the “signature wound of the Iraq War”. It’s caused by a sudden physical assault on the brain with or without damaging the skull. One sort of TBI in which the skull gets fractured can even lead to disability ratings of 100%. This condition increased in the 2000s and its consequences range from anxiety/depression to cognitive impairments. That’s why TBI is considered a grave risk to a vet’s mental functionality and post-retirement well-being. 

  • Infections

Serving in different parts of the world can lead to military service members developing infections as well. For vets with active infectious problems, VA even mandates a 100% disability rating. You must check out the VA’s classification of the infections related to military service and this list includes:

  • Q Fever
  • Shigella
  • Malaria
  • Brucellosis
  • West Nile Virus
  • Reduced Mobility

Since vets are more likely to be disabled than the general public, limited mobility isn’t uncommon in retired soldiers. These mobility problems make normal functioning difficult for veterans and they’re often restricted to wheelchairs. Coping with these shortcomings gives rise to other health issues, for instance, emotional problems and memory loss. But VA works with service providers to rehabilitate military veterans and help them walk again. 


In a nutshell, TBI, PTSD, chronic pain, and other mental/physical problems are the most common health issues facing military veterans. Moreover, these health issues can range from infections to amputations. Many veterans face reduced mobility while others suffer from the aftermath of gunshot wounds. Find resources to get the treatment you deserve and improve your life.

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