Jewels: As many of you already know, I don’t have any veterans in my immediate family other than my uncle, but I have the utmost respect for the bravery and the immense sacrifices so many have made for our country. What many of us do not realize is that the battle for many of these heroic women and men does not end with their tour of duty. No one could deserve our full understanding and support more, so I was thrilled when Emily Walsh kindly wrote this guest blog post in time for Veterans Day this Sunday.

My uncle Harlan (who served in Korea before I was born) and Aunt Barbara

Emily: For many military veterans and their families, living with health conditions as a result of their service can be an excruciating experience.  First, it is important that you understand what the most common military-related conditions are and how doctors often treat them.  Next, you need to see just how important it is for you to visit your doctor regularly to keep an eye on your health and well-being.

Many veterans deal with severe emotional and psychological trauma after being in war.  PTSD and severe depression are both common among those who served in the military.  Veterans often deal with nightmares, insomnia and anxiety every day, and have to deal with these conditions on their own.  If you have PTSD or know of someone who does, it is important that the person seek help from a professional therapist.  There are thousands of therapists who specialize in helping people cope with PTSD.  In certain cases, medication may be necessary.

Young patriotic – watching the parade perched high on my father’s shoulders

Another thing that many veterans have to deal with would be mesothelioma, which is a rare cancer caused by asbestos. Often used when building older homes, asbestos was also used on cargo ships and in military bases.  Many veterans have been exposed to it, and are now dealing with the consequences. The cancer needs to be treated by a specialist called an oncologist, and you will need your doctor to refer you to a good one.

Both psychological issues and medical problems need to be addressed by a doctor.  There is no reason for you to live in pain, or with emotional trauma when there is help out there.  It is always better to begin treatment for something before it gets out of hand.  Establishing a professional relationship with your doctor will encourage you to visit him for routine check-ups.  If you think you may have been exposed to asbestos while serving in the military, make sure that you let your doctor know so that he can order the proper tests. You may even find that joining a local support group for veterans who have the same condition as you helps immensely on your journey to recovery.

Today, I still have the utmost respect for the bravery and the immense sacrifices

Jewels: Thank you Emily for opening our eyes a little wider, and reaching out to help make the lives of those who have done so much for us better. Please click “comment” below to pay homage to the veterans in your life. I invite all of you to share your own stories, or those of someone you love, in overcoming these challenges – maybe it will be the message of hope someone still struggling needs to hear?

PS. I love you uncle Harlan!

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  • November 9, 2012
    9:53 am

    My Grandfather was a bit of a wanderer and found himself working and living in Manhattan during the first world war. He had been raised in Newfoundland so when he enlisted in Manhattan he had to take his American citizenship. He boarded the boat and spent a little over a year in France before coming back and settling down. He never spoke about the war and years later when his oldest son joined the Navy underage for the second world war, he came home from where he was working and had to straighten things out with the enlistment office so his 15 year old son didn’t ship out. My mother remembers the priest coming up the path to their house to get my grandmother on his way to tell my mother’s aunt that her son had been killed in action in Europe. The priest was a common sight in the day visiting etc but apparently there was a certain walk he had when it was news from the war department and you held your breath until he passed or hoping he’d pass. It’s something unimaginable and hard to grasp yet it continues in it’s own way today. At least these days there is help starting to become available to these men and women. We have no comprehension of what they’ve seen

  • November 9, 2012
    10:11 am

    What vivid images and emotions come to mind reading about your grandfather, and your mother’s own account about the priest. It’s sometimes hard to fathom that it is not a movie – that this is hard cold reality for so many, and it is important to be reminded of the difference, and the very real struggles many of these brave people have to endure when they come home. While we will never completely grasp what they are going through unless we’ve had a similar experience, we owe it to them to try to understand enough to support and help them find the help they need.

  • November 9, 2012
    10:50 am

    Most of my family has been in the military at one point or another. My dad is a 27 year veteran retiree of the US Air Force, my ex-husband and his identical twin brother both served in the Air Force. All my grandparents except one were in WW2. My ex-father-in-law is former Marine, then Army. The ex’s cousin, uncle, and grandfather are all retired Army & Air Force. He also has relatives that are retired Navy. Even down to my nephew’s dad, who is former Coast Guard. We have ALL the branches covered.