The impact of in-service physical injury or illness on the mental health of military veterans

Hynes, Celia, Scullion, L, Lawler, C, Steel, Rebecca and Boland, Paul orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-2267-4295 (2021) The impact of in-service physical injury or illness on the mental health of military veterans. BMJ Military Health . ISSN 2633-3767

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Background: Each year approximately 2000 UK service personnel are medically discharged with physical and/or psychological injury or illness. While there is much research on both psychological injury and physical injury, the challenges of transition relating to the intersection between the two has received less attention. This article reports on the first phase of a 2-year funded study with the aim to understand the lived experiences of veterans who have been discharged from service with a physical injury or illness and the impacts of this on their mental health. Methods: Using a qualitative methodology, 22 veterans who had been discharged from service within the last 8 years were interviewed to identify key aspects of their experience of the transition process. Results: The article highlights two key themes: how some veterans adjusted to life with a physical injury or condition; and, the intersections that became apparent between physical injury and mental health. The challenges that veterans faced were shaped by the transition process and by the way in which the medical discharge process was conducted. Conclusions: Consideration of improvements to the medical discharge process could influence better outcomes for those who have left with a physical injury or illness and later find themselves struggling with mental health issues.

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