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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I recently had an email from a very nice lady by the name of Emily Walsh. She's the Community Outreach Director for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, and she asked if I would be interested in publishing an article from her. Of course I said yes! Our youngest is in the Navy (as my three remaining readers might remember) and, unfortunately, many of our retired service members have had long-term negative health effects from exposure to a number of substances that are now known to be harmful, asbestos being one of them.

The thing about asbestos is, it's a naturally occurring mineral. It's still used in quite a number of applications, and isn't always dangerous to be around. It's only when the fibers are released into the air and inhaled into the respiratory system that trouble occurs. There's some good information to be found on the EPA website.

Here's what Emily sent me, in its entirety:

Regular Check-ups Strongly Advised for Military Veterans 

Studies show that many of our military servicemen and women are not receiving regular healthcare screenings after they leave active duty. Understanding the importance of these check-ups, the Pentagon orders all troops to receive a screening for various health issues between three and six months after returning from deployment. However, regular screenings for veterans beyond this six-month time frame are also strongly advised. In fact, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) recommends that veterans receive an annual physical at their local VA office.

What Health Issues Are Checked? 
Physicians should be regularly screening veterans for symptoms of both physical and mental health issues that might make transitioning back into the civilian world difficult following deployment or active duty. Many veterans simply return to their family doctor, however there are many issues that can affect veterans that can easily be overlooked by civilian physicians. 

Obtaining a health care screening from the VA will provide the best opportunity for addressing specific issues associated with prior service. Many different diagnostic tests are run, such as blood and other routine tests, to help your VA physician diagnose any issues before you even start to show symptoms.

Physical Health Screenings 
The VA offers a wide variety of preventative services and screenings based upon the veteran's age, gender, family history and current health status. Screenings for PTSD, HIV, high blood pressure and alcohol abuse should be given to all veterans. Other risks associated with prior active duty service, including illnesses from location-specific deployment; environmental exposure, which can lead to mesothelioma or some cancers; and trauma-related issues may also be screened for during an annual exam. 

Other issues, such as tobacco use, weight loss and other challenges faced by veterans can also be addressed during these check-ups. Diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, arthritis and other common ailments can be screened for during your exam. An annual physical is also a great time to update your medical records and to ensure that your vaccinations are current. 

Mental Health Screenings 
Post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety are frequently seen in military veterans. Unfortunately, these issues aren't usually apparent until between 90 and 180 days after returning to civilian life. It is important that soldiers aren't assessed too early, otherwise many of these conditions can be overlooked, negatively impacting the veteran's life further down the road. 

New veterans should schedule a check-up and connect with local VA soon after returning home. Sometimes the transition between active duty and civilian life can be difficult. Many of these services also provide counseling and opportunities to get to know others who have shared similar experiences during active duty. 

It is important to know that each veteran is different and that each of these screenings and services have unique pros and cons that must be considered. As a result, you may wish to receive more, less or different types of services during your visit, so it is important to speak with your medical team before proceeding with your annual exam.


About Me

I'm just an average mom with an addiction to medblogs, and an attitude I'm not afraid to use. I currently share living space with a husband, an adult son, two dogs, two birds, and a number of cats who are convinced that they own the place and we're just the domestic help. Yes, I'm opinionated. Yes, I cuss. Frequently. I probably should switch the "censor circuit" back on before I shock any more of my friends. Pseudonyms are the rule in this blog, except where I've been given permission to use the person's real name. If you think you know me, or anybody else mentioned here by pseudonym, well, you probably don't - we're all just figments of the universe's imagination anyway.