Department of Veterans Affairs clinicians offer a comprehensive review of the health concerns of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans and practical management guidelines for primary care providers in an article published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
"Post Deployment Care for Returning Combat Veterans" – written by Drs. Juliette F. Spelman, Stephen C. Hunt, Karen H. Seal and Lucile Burgo-Black – reviews how combat deployments can impact the physical, psychological, and social health of veterans, and describes their unique health-care needs. This includes the need for assessment and management of injuries associated with blast exposures – including mild traumatic brain injury – as well as mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and substance abuse.
Other important health concerns discussed include chronic musculoskeletal pain, medically unexplained symptoms, complications from environmental exposures, heightened suicide risk, sleep disturbances, and impairments in family, occupational and social functioning.
The article summarizes evidence that supports elevated frequencies of physiological and behavioral cardiovascular risk factors, including hypertension and tobacco use, raising concerns about future health implications for these veterans. In light of relationships between physical, psychological and psychosocial concerns in this population, the VA authors recommend an interdisciplinary approach to care directed toward mitigating the long-term health impacts of combat.
To view the article, click here.