It is one thing to look after the health and welfare of your family, but entirely different to take responsibility for protecting the entire city or country. Yes, years of service to the country reaps great respect from citizens, but unfortunately, it doesn’t come without repercussions.
There are risks that veterans accept when they step into this role – gunpowder, harsh weather, and harmful chemicals like asbestos are just a few of the many hazards they face.
However, living a healthy and stable retirement is possible with the right care. Many war veterans are happy and healthy, self-assured, and some are even happier in the second half of their life after regular checkups and an active lifestyle.
Keen to learn more? Let’s discuss.
1. Aim for prevention
Hold on to the adage that prevention is better than cure, no matter how redundant it might sound. Prevention is all the more important for war veterans because they have been exposed to serious toxins during service.
Now that you’ve retired, it would be terrible if those years of exposure caught up to you. The only way you can identify any such threat is through frequent medical exams.
Asbestos exposure is one of the many threats war veterans must deal with. If left untreated, it can escalate to mesothelioma, a deadly cancer that targets the abdomen or lungs.
You can learn more about it from online resources like Mesothelioma Hope. The website provides reliable sources for treatment, consultations, and important information regarding compensation for those exposed to this toxin without prior warning.
2. Look after your mental health
Seeing bloodshed and suffering can take a serious toll on your mental health and y eat away at your peace.
Even if you are confident that you are past those days, it will help to talk to a therapist and remove any potential roots for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There is a reason why problems like PTSD are called ‘invisible injuries.’
If you notice any of the following signs, it might signal emotional trauma; look out for personality changes, withdrawal, lack of regard for self-care, and uncharacteristic moodiness, anger, and anxiety.
Other times, past trauma manifests itself in the form of substance abuse problems. Remember that your mental health is equally important as your physical health, and if any such symptoms manifest, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.
It is amazing how social support fosters resilience to stress, buffers against adverse events, boosts motivation, and improves the quality of life in general. People with social support from family, colleagues, and friends live healthier, happier, and even longer!
After all, man is a social animal. Isn’t it hard to imagine a life without friends? So why let old age interfere and deprive you of your precious bond with your loved ones?
Especially as you age, loneliness and isolation increase the risk of anxiety, stress, depression, and insomnia. It even increases the risk of premature death by 50%!
One problem you might face as a war veteran is not having people understand your trauma. It will help if you associate yourself with a social support group of veterans.
4. Stay active
Becoming a couch potato after years of intense physical exertion sounds appealing but can have terrible longer-term consequences. Staying active is more important for you than anyone else because your body is used to it.
Fortunately, even a little exercise can work wonders for your physical and mental health. Ideally, you only need 2.5 hours of moderate and 1.25 hours of vigorous-intensity activity weekly.
The best part is that it doesn’t have to be a formal workout at the gym; you can introduce physical activity into your routine through fun activities like badminton, tennis, volleyball, boxing, cycling, swimming, or simply jogging.
Also, consider including some strength activities aimed at the legs, abdomen, shoulders, arms, chest, or back at least two times a week.
Quite the opposite of intense exercise, yoga is a good option too. It is a great way to relax your body, slow down, focus on your breathing, and learn how to calm yourself
5. Prioritize sleep
As sad as it might sound, in the military, sleep deprivation is the norm; in the United States, 37% of people report not getting a minimum of 7 hours of sleep regularly. For those in the military, the figure is 76%!
It is normal if you are having difficulty sleeping or staying asleep even after retirement; what matters is that you work on getting your sleep schedule back on track. Prolonged sleep deprivation poses a serious risk of hypertension, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, depression, and more.
To get your sleep in control, it will help to have a fixed sleep schedule, limit exposure to blue light before sleep, avoid caffeine and heavy meals before bedtime, and adopt some relaxing routines for the night.
6. Watch what you eat
There is an obvious relationship between diet and physical health, but did you know that research has also found a link between a balanced diet and mental health? In other words, what you eat influences how you feel.
While a balanced diet might not be the ultimate and only necessary healthcare plan for veterans, it is the perfect place to start; eat healthy to stay healthy. You don’t need to follow a strict diet but do take note of the nutrients you should be consuming.
Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, don’t skip a solid breakfast, avoid snacking, and watch your sugar intake. It would help if you left harmful habits like smoking and consuming alcohol. In the long run, these can manifest as problems like weight gain, anxiety, and depression.
Research has found that eating enough fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, nuts, whole grains, less sugar, salt, butter, fatty meats, and processed foods can protect you from Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and heart problems.
Living as military personnel is tough, but life after retirement has its own challenges. If not for proper care, plenty of risks can affect the quality of your life.
Remember to get frequent medical checkups, look after your mental health, socialize, stay active, get enough sleep, and maintain a healthy diet.
Together these small efforts can contribute to a healthy and fulfilling life as a veteran.