Sunday, May 22, 2011

A guest post by Taylor Darden

I received an email from Taylor last month asking if she could write a guest post on my blog. I was skeptical at first, and was honestly expecting some kind of spam (which is what I usually get), but she demonstrated a true compassion for spreading awareness about issues facing our American Soldiers!


Supporting Our Soldiers After Service
by Taylor Darden

Many military families remember the days when their spouses return home as being some of the best memories. Most of these families will continue on being happy afterwards, but for some families, helping their spouses adjust with illness and sickness can be an extremely tough situation. The difficulty involves the fact that a number of these health problems happen to be more mental than physical issues.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is one of the most common types of health problems for soldiers in post-duty times. It’s also an extremely hard problem to diagnose. Even with high awareness of the disorder’s prevalence in soldiers, it can be difficult to diagnose because many soldiers are often embarrassed or ashamed to admit that they may have PTSD. It’s important for families to take notice of any odd behavior like depression, apathy, and mood swings that may be common with PTSD. For the many soldiers who suffer from PTSD, a solid support system and cognitive therapy are two of the biggest helpers in their coping process.

Along with PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is often regarded as being highly tied to military service. This is usually a result of a physical harm or trauma on the frontline, which ends up causing some long term issues. One of the reasons TBI has been called the signature wound of the War on Terror is because the violent vibrations caused by roadside bombs can hit soldiers with such force that the shockwave alone can cause a TBI by rattling their head about in their helmet. Any type of blurred vision, dizziness or balance issues, as well as trouble with memory and erratic mood swings after service can be recognizable symptoms and key in diagnosing a case of TBI. As with most health issues, the earlier those symptoms are recognized, the better the chances are of preventing any type of further damage to the brain.

Another major issue for older and younger veterans is mesothelioma. This is a health risk associated with exposure to asbestos, a commonly used material throughout the past 100 years (oftentimes on bases and shipyards). Although it’s not being used anymore, the health problems related to asbestos don’t develop right away, making an early diagnose crucial in helping these patients. Mesothelioma life expectancy is usually only a year on average, making early awareness and realization even more important than with most health problems. Often times these patients may require the help of care givers (often family members or spouses). Currently, mesothelioma is treated with combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, although to little avail. If it is caught early enough however, mesothelioma tumors can be surgically removed leading to a much higher rate of survival, making it important for veterans to take note of extremely subtle symptoms like a difficulty breathing and heaviness in the chest.

It’s very unfortunate that that some of these military families are forced to undergo even more stress and difficulty in their lives. In the end, increased knowledge, awareness, and overall support from family and friends will only help to provide our soldiers the best situation possible.



Kristina P. said...

Very informative. I've been reading so many articles lately about PTSD and suicide rates, in the military. It's alarming.

Queenie Jeannie said...

Great post! Over here we have "commercials" on these topics every single day. Most people in the military don't have the *honor* of only having AFN to watch though, lol!


blueviolet said...

This makes me so sad that after they serve, there may be life long effects. :(


Grat guest post! I have been a big supporter for the treatment/dianosis of PTSD for a long time having seen people experience it.

Cheeseboy said...

There should be so much more offered for these vets. They should be given the world and more. It's a shame they are not.