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Veterans are most concerned about health following service time

Researchers found that chronic pain affects more than half of the vets surveyed

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Following military service, it’s important for veterans to stay on top of their health care. In a recent study, researchers from the Veterans Affairs Research Communications found that health is the major concern for the majority of veterans returning home from service. 

“What remains to be seen is whether those veterans with health conditions -- which were more commonly experienced by deployed veterans -- continue to maintain high levels of well-being in other life domains over time,” said researcher Dr. Dawn Vogt. 

“Given that it is well-established that health problems can erode functioning in other life domains, it may be that these individuals experience decline in their broader well-being over time.” 

Prioritizing healthcare 

The researchers surveyed 10,000 service members for the study, asking them to report on life after the military once they’ve been home for three months, and then again six months later.

The majority of veterans reported feeling satisfied in their work and social lives, as many were in committed relationships, had found jobs at home, and often socialized with friends or family. However, healthcare was a point of concern for many veterans, as more than half of those involved in the study reported problems with their health after returning home, particularly when it came to struggling with chronic pain

Mental health issues were also a sore spot, as around one-third of the participants reported issues with anxiety, depression, and trouble sleeping. 

Tailoring support services

The researchers believe that these findings provide a great deal of insight into how veterans are thinking after returning home. They hope their work can help assistance programs across the country do better in their work to serve veterans’ needs after service. 

Moving forward, Dr. Vogt hopes that support services can be tailored to fit veterans’ concerns, which this study revealed are primarily physical and mental health. With the right options in place, the readjustment period can be easier for vets returning home. 

“Given that most transition support is targeted to veterans with the most acute or chronic concerns, this recommendation may require rethinking how veteran programs prioritize their efforts,” said Dr. Vogt. “While it makes sense to target resources to those with greatest need, it is better to support individuals before their concerns become chronic when we can.” 

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