Retired Colonel and PhD E.C. Hurley recently warned of issues that have been known to impact veterans after leaving service. While not new, what is new (at least to me) is that the military has known of these conditions for over a century. My recruiter sure didn’t mention that by just serving during a war would increase my chances numerous times over for certain ailments beyond average civilians.
Since at least the civil war, medical professionals have diagnosed conditions impacting veterans much later in life following military combat. Since we all knew going into the military that it was a dangerous proposition, none of us are surprised of the external injuries we received. Bombs blow up. Rifles go off. People get hurt and some die. But many of us are unaware of the long-term nature of these silent injuries.
Symptoms range in symptomology in the form numerous disorders like chronic fatigue, sleep problems, skin rashes and blackouts. Internally, the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) classifies these as medically unexplained physical symptoms (MUPS). Many of the MUPS have no formal treatment, leading the DVA to be helpless to treat veterans with these symptoms.
Hurley points out that the reason for many of these have everything to do with exposure to exceptionally life-threatening situations. These experiences are storied in the brain and potentially lead the body to emit pain responses.
For example, the stomach contains the second largest nerve center behind the brain. When threatened, a nature human response is to tighten the stomach. Pause and repeat. Pause and repeat. After 4 tours in the Middle East or years in Vietnam, it should be no surprise that prolonged combat experienced tend to result in chronic conditions due to repeated stressors.
While the DVA is unable to provide direct treatments for many of these MUPS, alternative medical treatments have begun to experience some successes. Hurley supports Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). I have personally used Thought Field Therapy (TFT) with success for similar issues. My LSAT score for law school increased substantially, because my testing anxiety decreased. These kinds of alternative treatments are not alone; there are literally hundreds of alternatives.
While I will not endorse any method over another, I certainly encourage veterans to investigate alternatives to Western Medicine when nothing else works. Just be sure to consult with your physician before trying anything outside of your wheelhouse.
Ultimately, veterans suffering from conditions, pains and other ailments, should not feel isolated or alone when the DVA is unable to provide treatments or solutions. Long-term health problems have been a long time problem for veterans since at least the Civil War. While getting treatment for the conditions may be elusive, at least knowing that there is a long history of mysterious illnesses that come with military serve can lend insight into a particular condition.