Veteran’s Struggles

Common Veteran’s Struggles with Mental Health

Many people bear witness to a veteran’s valiant façade on or off the battlefield and do not realize what they are enduring internally. Apart from suffering physical injuries, veterans struggle with various psychological injuries as well. Understanding and accommodating mental health is extremely important for all business professionals, including those intent on hiring veterans. While the most common setbacks include PTSD and depression, the challenges are manifold.

General Mental Well-Being

Being exposed to traumatic situations while on a deployment can result in mental health issues that manifest in a variety of ways, and sometimes all at once. For example, over 7% of the troops returning from Afghanistan and Iraq showed signs of depression or PTSD upon their return from active duty. Due to lack of proper support, and stigmatization, they don’t often share their mental health symptoms with anyone, including medical professionals.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Based on the complexity of their jobs, PTSD is one of the most well-known mental ailments that veterans experience. Combat, accidents, physical or sexual abuse, natural catastrophe, assault, and other similar events are most frequently linked to this anxiety disorder.

PTSD symptoms include reliving the incident, avoiding unpleasant situations that trigger memories of one’s trauma, unfavorable changes in attitudes and feelings, and generalized detachment. All of these make the transition to civilian life increasingly challenging for both veterans and military spouses.

Bipolar Disorder

A bipolar disorder usually brings about extreme mood shifts in individuals swinging between phases of depression to extremely high energy. These sudden mood changes impact a patient’s personal life and may come off as immensely confusing and alarming to their loved ones. Veterans with bipolar disorder may go through episodes of mania or high energy as well as excessively positive moods, and again followed by extended depressive episodes or spells of hopelessness.

 Other signs of bipolar disorder that they may suffer include racing thoughts and difficulty sleeping. However, this mental health disorder can be effectively managed with appropriate medical assistance, and support.


Depression is a malady that may alter a veteran’s ability to eat, work, interact, sleep, and even enjoy day-to-day activities. The long-term effects of this condition can make it extremely challenging to function and transition back to civilian life.

The most common symptoms of depression include losing interest in tasks that may formerly have been enjoyable; likewise, feeling hopeless, having suicidal thoughts, and a difficulty concentrating. Depression may also manifest through physical problems, including fatigue, pain, headaches, and stomach problems. According to studies by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, veterans have a five times higher rate of depression than civilians.

Substance Use Disorder

Substance use disorders, including alcohol use, continue to be a concern among veterans and service members. There are dangers and protective factors associated with substance use by active-duty troops due to the strain of deployments and the distinctive military culture.

Alcohol and other narcotics may be consumed as a method of self-medication by veterans recently returned from active duty. Common symptoms of substance use disorder include failure to break an addictive cycle irrespective of negative consequences, increased urge of substance abuse, withdrawal symptoms,  depression, and anxiety.

As with anyone suffering from such symptoms, veterans are empowered to lead healthy lives after receiving the right treatment and rehabilitation for substance abuse disorders.

Traumatic Brain Injury

Common deployment-related injuries include traumatic brain injuries or TBIs. These are caused by external force striking the brain such as electric shocks from blasts or wounds from assaults. Although a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a significant damage that impairs or alters brain function momentarily, it lacks any obvious physical symptoms, earning it the moniker “invisible wound.”

Although the majority of the effects of TBIs are mild and, in many cases, may not have any major impact on the soft skills in veterans, in severe cases these may have long-term repercussions on cognition, thinking, mental attention, and emotions. These could include speech impairments, headaches, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, vision impairments, changes to smell or taste, frustration, and memory loss.

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