Military Veterans face a unique variety of health issues during service and after discharge or retirement. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is one of the most well-known health concerns that veterans may face, but there are many other issues that a larger portion of the veteran population encounter that are often overlooked, such as anxiety, tendinitis, chronic pain, hearing loss and exposure to environmental hazards.
The first step for any veteran that has been released from duty is to register with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA). Even if he or she is in good health when they are discharged, it’s important to establish health records. They may not be eligible for certain benefits right away, but registering early will make things easier if they need help years later, when service-related health issues can arise. If a veteran decides to see a civilian provider, they could request the patient’s records from the VA and vice versa.
For those veterans that still see a civilian provider, it’s still important to discuss your service history with them to set a baseline of health. That way, if any problems come up, your provider already understands your background and can create a tailored treatment plan based on your individual needs. Whether you see a primary care provider or have a hospital stay, Cone Health case managers and social workers can guide veterans to community services such as health care, housing assistance, food, temporary shelter, and clothing.
Dave Jenkins is the director of bariatrics and wellness services and a co-founder of the Service Veterans Employee Networking Group at Cone Health. He received his Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of North Carolina Asheville and earned his Master of Business Administration degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Jenkins is a master sergeant in the North Carolina Air National Guard.