Resources for post-combat trauma - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Resources for post-combat trauma

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

All throughout eastern Iowa and the tri-states area, many service members are returning home to loved ones, familiar places and - in some unfortunate cases - post-combat medical conditions.

Those can range from sore bodies to respiratory problems to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

New research out of Vanderbilt University shows soldiers serving in the Middle East may be at risk for a lung disease called constrictive bronchiolitis.

Experts say this could be a result of exposure to sulfur fires and burn pits.

In addition to lung diseases, service members face a variety of possible pains, according to Janann Anderson. She's the program director for Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn at the Iowa City VA Health Care System.

"Orthopedic with back pains and flips, trips and falls while they've been deployed, especially to Afghanistan because it's very, very hilly," Anderson said.

Some conditions, however, might not be so physical.

"Going from combat to family life sometime can be difficult, because, remember, when a service member is in combat or with the Department of Defense, they are very structured," Anderson said. "They're used to following orders."

A service member on terminal leave or a veteran may become overwhelmed by the number of decisions that face them.

"There could be changes in sleep, there could be changes in diet, there could be changes in the way they're interacting," Anderson said.

She suggests family members bring this to their loved one's attention and the service member or veteran then consider taking advantage of military help resources.

Veterans can get treatment at VA hospitals and active duty service members can call the number on their TRICARE Health Care card to find a nearby eligible facility.

Each county in Iowa has a Veterans Affairs Office, dedicated to helping connect veterans with services such as medical care, employment and home loans.

VA hospitals offer counseling services, too. Any veteran or active duty service member can also always call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

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