As veterans you are a unique segment of our society. If there is any healthcare demographic that should be given top priority, it should be yours. Veterans who are vulnerable to complications of preventable illnesses–both physical and mental–simply are not given this prioritization.
When there are obstacles to adequate care, desperation meets hopelessness, and you are vulnerable to reaching out in the wrong directions for relief. As such, substance abuse and/or suicidal thinking are more likely.
Today, as veterans’ numbers build up, it is more important than ever to address the likely concurrent illnesses (mental concerns and abuse) that veterans suffer, especially with rational strategies used by special clinics and practices that are specifically designed to address them.
Selling You Out Short
You have literally stopped your lives to render service to your country, and you often sell yourself out short. In the armed and other related services, you are isolated from mainstream society because you are tasked with an important job that shouldn’t be saddled with the stress of the usual domestic struggles. In this way it is supportive, but making the transition from the care taking provided by “Uncle Sam” to the capitalist model can be a challenge.
You may move on, but isolation can follow you, causing poor self-esteem. Such feelings can make you feel (not be!) worthless, unimportant, or impotent in the post-service world. In short, it can be overwhelming. However, when those who have promised you loyalty fall short with inadequate health and mental health services, it serves to amplify your isolation.
A Conspiracy of Dysfunctions
In veterans, mental health problems can range from subtle mood dysfunction to overt psychosis. Poor self-esteem and suffering in isolation that come from inadequate services create hopelessness, and hopelessness makes everything worse, from a lack of resilience to physical pain. You can think of hopelessness as the gasoline you pour on the fire of your suffering. Worse, this can impact the suicide rate, all the worse due to the negligent mismanagement of the VA outreach budget.
There are two major reasons for your isolation, summed up as obstacles to your care:
- Geographic obstacles to care.
- Insufficient availability of care.
Thus, if transportation to care and/or having gaps in care (e.g., not enough VA beds or timely appointments) exist, these become the determinants of your entire care failure.
Given the obstacles above, not only conventional health concerns are at increased risk (e.g., hypertension, diabetes, or heart disease), but the unique ones as well (such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD). Thus, as a veteran, becoming hopeless can make you vulnerable; when no one else is there for you, there is a vacuum that is easily filled with the seduction of an easy fix, such as drugs or alcohol.
The Solution to Concurrent Conditions Must Be Global…and Adequate!
Substance abuse represents a distinct overlap between physical illness and mental dysfunction, and it acts to increase the synergy between them: the sum of risks is more than the mere addition to the parts. This complicates care substantially, such that any legitimate care for substance abuse requires that both mental healthcare and physical care be incorporated into a “global” approach, because anything less will doom the entire therapy.
There Is Help
Facilities exist which “get it.” They address your global assortment of problems, and provide both in-patient and out-patient services that deal with the complexity of your unique tangled web of conditions.