The Other Costs of War
Published April 14, 2014
Most of the focus on injuries involving veterans centers on injuries that are sustained as a direct result of being involved in combat. These include blast-related brain injuries, amputations, genital injuries and other injuries that veterans are exposed to when they are in a combat zone. However, veterans may suffer a whole host of other medical and health complications, and the full range of these complications is only now being explored.
For instance, veterans who return home finding that their hormones that have been completely thrown out of balance because of the stress that they have been under during combat. Blast-related injuries are not the only head injuries that veterans suffer. During the course of combat, jumping from elevations may result in falls resulting in injuries with symptoms that are different from the blast-related head injuries that receive the most attention.
Veterans, who were in situations where they had to inhale heavy smoke, find that their lungs are weaker after they return home. Their bodies have been under severe stress and strain as a result of running around with heavy armor, resulting in long-term spinal injuries. Many veterans return home with hearing loss as a result of the constant exposure to blasts.
Such injuries are not typically considered injuries like those that result from an enemy attack, blast and explosion. Therefore these vets are not feted for their bravery, and are not awarded Purple Hearts. Even more importantly, they do not even feature in the official list of veterans wounded in combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.
However, that doesn’t change the fact that these veterans’ injuries have permanent and possibly long-term consequences. The range and scope of these non-hostile injuries is only now beginning to become clear, and as the months pass, and as many veterans return from combat and resume their lives, we will be able to fully explore and understand the full scope of the impact of the wars on veteran health.