Veterans Day and Mental Health

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November 11th is set aside to honor all of the veterans who served our country. Veterans day, formerly called Armistice Day came into effect after the Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919, which commemorated the end of World War I. World War I ended months before the treaty was signed and for that reason, Nov. 11, 1918, was named Armistice Day, representing the ending of all wars. In 1926, Congress recognized this day as the end of the war, and in 1938, it became an official holiday. After World War II and the Korean War, Congress amended this day and changed the name to ‘veterans” so the day would honor American veterans of all wars.

The Difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a time to remember individuals who lost their lives for our country. Veterans Day honors all soldeirs who have served the country in war or peace, dead or alive, although it’s primarily intended to thank living veterans for their service.

Mental Health Statistics in Veteran

Serving the country on and off the battlefield comes with many sacrifices. Leaving behind loved ones to travel to a completely new country, experiencing cultural differences, witnessing death and trauma, sacrificing one’s life in battle and enduring the physical and mental discipline that it requires to serve in the military are all difficult hurdles every veteran has faced during her or her service to the country. As a result, veterans are not only at great risk for physical injures during battle but they are also at an increased risk for mental health and substance abuse disorders. According to the RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research ’20 percent of the vets who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from either major depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. 19.5 percent of vets in these two categories have experienced a traumatic brain injury’.

  • Nearly 1 in 4 active duty members showed signs of a mental health condition
  • A 2014 JAMA Psychiatry study found the rate of depression to be five times higher in veterans than civilians.
  • A 2014 JAMA Psychiatry study found the rate of PTSD to be 15 times higher in veterans than civilians.
  • The National Institute of Drug Abuse reports that substance abuse among veterans is linked to their exposure to combat.
  • One study showed that 25 percent of returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans showed signs of substance abuse disorder.
  • According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, 2.1 million veterans underwent mental health treatment from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs from 2006 through 2010.
  • Another study by NIDA showed that in 2008 active duty and veteran military personnel abused prescription drugs at a rate more than twice as high compared to civilians.
  • Military members who were diagnsoed with a traumatic brain injury were more than twice as likely to be diagnsoed with PTSD later on than service members who did not suffer a TBI.

Barriers to Mental Health Treatment for Veterans

Some of the barriers veterans face include the following:

  • Personal shame about service-related mental disabilities
  • Shame over needing to seek mental health treatment
  • Fear of being viewed as weak
  • Stigma
  • A lack of understanding in regards to mental health problems and treatment options
  • Long travel distances and wait times in order to receive this type of care
  • Concerns over the adequacy of veteran mental health treatment offered by the VA
  • Demographic barriers and false perceptions based on these demographics such as age or gender

Kristen Fuller, M.D., is a clinical content writer and enjoys writing about evidence-based topics in the cutting-edge world of mental health and addiction medicine. She is a family medicine physician and author, who also teaches and contributes to medicine board education. Her passion lies within educating the public on preventable diseases including mental health disorders and the stigma associated with them. She is also an outdoor activist and spends most of her free time empowering other women to get outside into the backcountry.

Cite this paper

Veterans Day and Mental Health. (2021, Feb 26). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/veterans-day-and-mental-health/

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