You’ve spent years serving your country. You pushed your body and mind to the limit from the first day of basic training. You’ve braved the harsh environments of foreign soil and endured the rigors of military life. You are a veteran.
But now, it’s time for you to adjust to civilian life. From new work opportunities to readjusting your lifestyle, it can be a difficult transition. Don’t worry, though; it’ll all fall into place soon.
One thing, however, that you must work on is your health.
PTSD, limited range of motion, and hearing loss are common health concerns in veterans. But now is the time to take control and make your health a priority.
Here are some tips to ensure you stay healthy in your transition to civilian life.
Visit Your Doctor for Some Tests
It’s important to get an overall assessment of your health. Take the initiative and visit a doctor to make sure everything is functioning as it should. Ask them to help you with a plan that covers both physical and mental health concerns.
Some general tests to consider are:
- Blood tests to check your cholesterol and blood sugar levels
- Hearing tests to check for hearing loss caused by loud noises
- Body Mass Index (BMI) to measure your weight and height
- Vision tests to ensure your eyes are healthy
MRIs and CT scans are important too. Many veterans were exposed to asbestos in the line of duty. Asbestos exposure can lead to mesothelioma. Ask your doctor about mesothelioma testing specifically, as it can be easily missed. You can find more information on mesothelioma testing at mesotheliomaveterans.org.
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Stay Up-to-Date on Your Vaccination
Whether you are a service member or civilian, microbes, viruses, parasites, and ticks don’t discriminate. Therefore, to remain safe from harm, your vaccinations must be kept up-to-date.
Get an annual flu shot and other vaccines like pneumococcal, Hepatitis A and B, and Human Papillomavirus (HPV).
Plus, get the recommended travel vaccines for cholera and malaria if you’re traveling overseas.
Get Immediate Attention for Your Wounds and Injuries
Gunshots, explosions, and other forms of trauma can permanently change your body’s structure. Even after you have been discharged from the military, you must receive medical attention for any wounds you may have acquired in service.
Don’t be afraid to go back and get additional treatments if you think that you need them.
Chiropractic care can be extremely beneficial if you’re experiencing pain in your muscles, bones, and joints. Chiropractors specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of neuromuscular disorders and will be able to improve your flexibility and mobility.
Maintain a Fitness Routine
To stay healthy, it’s important to maintain an active lifestyle that includes running, swimming, or biking.
Research shows that regular physical activity can improve sleep quality, reduce stress, and boost your mood.
It can also help with common injuries such as chronic back and joint pain that veterans often experience.
If you’re unmotivated, start small and progress as your confidence builds. Inviting a friend or enlisting the help of an experienced personal trainer could be just what you need to get your journey off on the right foot.
Take Care of Your Mental Health
Being in the line of duty can take a toll on your mental health as well. Many veterans have endured traumatic experiences and isolation. These experiences can result in depression, anxiety, and stress.
Astounding research shows that only 50 percent of military members and veterans seek mental health services. This lack of care is making a dangerous impact on our society.
Therefore, you must prioritize your mental health needs by talking to a professional. If you need help, the US Department of Veterans Affairs provides free counseling services for veterans.
Socialize and Connect with Other Veterans
It’s natural to feel lost and overwhelmed when starting a new chapter in life. You might feel that your service experience is something no one else can understand. But sharing your story with other veterans could be just what you need to find comfort and relief.
You can also take up new hobbies like volunteering, gardening, and cooking to help you stay connected with your community.
By forming this connection, you will feel fulfilled and gain a clearer purpose. Research even shows that feeling like you belong somewhere and having an overarching mission can lead to improved physical wellness.
Do What You Enjoy Doing
After a lifetime of service, you deserve to take it easy and enjoy the things that bring you joy. Doing something that brings meaning to your life has been linked to overall good health.
Try out painting, music lessons, or yoga classes.
You can also adopt a pet. Animals can be a great source of company and comfort. They provide emotional support while also helping you stay active.
Spending time in nature can be a great way to relax and recharge if you’re looking for more activities. Nature has the power to reduce stress levels and help you stay focused. So, hike, swim, or camp your way to better physical and mental health.
Be Mindful of Your Diet
A nutritious diet is essential for maintaining optimal health and wellness. Making the right food choices can significantly reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Maintaining a healthy diet is essential for all veterans. It means getting your daily intake of important proteins, veggies, and fruits.
It’s also wise to monitor caloric consumption while limiting processed food and sugar-filled drinks.
A diet that contains nutrient-rich foods like salmon, spinach, walnuts, and blueberries can offer tremendous advantages.
Veterans are some of the bravest people in our society. So, they must receive the proper care and support upon returning from service.
Physical activity, a balanced diet, mental health services, and connections with other veterans can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle. And doing things you love can provide meaning to life while promoting positive feelings. Remember, taking care of your health should be your top priority.