Discussing Veteran Health Concerns & Accessibility

By Taneia Surles, MPH
Community Outreach Coordinator

Veteran healthcare is offered through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for health concerns like disability, service-related injuries, and ailments, with no added costs at a veteran’s hospital. However, veterans can experience other issues after service that aren’t always treated or covered at veteran hospitals. An overlooked issue is the need for continuous healthcare for military and non-military-related injuries not available at VA hospitals.

Here are the most common veteran health concerns.

Chronic Pain
The veteran population experiences more chronic pain at a higher intensity than the general population. Chronic pain hinders the performance of daily activities, such as work. In addition, there’s the issue of opioids not supplying enough relief for chronic pain. Unfortunately, an opioid prescription doesn’t always improve chronic pain amongst service members (Morasco et al., 2020).

Veterans need rehabilitation services to care for their mental and physical health conditions. Rehabilitation can help veterans regain independence and improve their quality of life. However, not all rehabilitation programs are covered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, thus leaving veterans to use their private health insurance or pay out-of-pocket expenses.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or “shell shock” is a mental disorder that develops after someone experiences stress and anxiety-inducing situations like war, accidents, assault, or natural disasters. PTSD symptoms include sleeping problems, intrusive thoughts, nightmares, heightened emotions, and anxiety. For veterans, PTSD can arise after involvement in combat or from non-military-related incidents such as interpersonal or sexual abuse (Inoue et al., 2022). Fortunately, PTSD healthcare is offered and covered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

“Clearly defining and treating our Veterans; injuries is a passionate pursuit among those of us who care for and treat our Nation’s finest,” said George Kyle, M.D., HAPPI Health’s family care physician and director of quality and audit services.

HAPPI Health works with Still Serving Veterans to help veterans become aware of available healthcare services. “It is a misconception that just because you have or are wearing the cloth of the nation, you are eligible for VA medical care,” said Paulette M. Risher, president and CEO of Still Serving Veterans. “The rules are very specific, and many find themselves on the outside of the system. HAPPI Health helps to fill that gap!”

George Kyle, M.D. Byline

HAPPI Health’s family practitioner, Dr. George Kyle, has 23 years of experience in family medicine. He recently retired as a U.S. Army Colonel after serving 30 years. He holds himself to the standard of having a servant’s heart. Dr. Kyle and his wife have two children and a pet.

Morasco, B. J., Smith, N., Dobscha, S. K., Deyo, R. A., Hyde, S., & Yarborough, B. J. H. (2020, January 24). Outcomes of prescription opioid dose escalation for chronic pain: results from a prospective cohort study. Pain, 161(6), 1332–1340. https://doi.org/10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001817

Inoue C, Shawler E, Jordan CH, et al. Veteran and Military Mental Health Issues. [Updated 2022 May 23]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK572092/

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