JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More than 80% of wounded, ill and injured veterans registered with Wounded Warrior Project report symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the findings of a new survey by the nonprofit organization.
But the survey also puts a spotlight on other mental and physical health challenges that veterans are facing.
"Everything went smoothly. After I was out, I was still being checked by my case manager. She actually called me yesterday, as well," veteran Leonardo Yui said.
Yui (pictured) was medically retired from the Navy in 2018. He said his transition out was smooth, but his current life is still a day-by-day process.
"The isolation is what gets me. And most veterans, that's what we do. We isolate a lot," Yui said. "But you just got to keep punching. You just got to continue on. Every day you're not going to be smiling. It's just an up and down battle."
Yui isn't alone, according to the new survey by WWP.
Overall, half of the 35,000 veterans registered with the organization who participated in the survey reported their health as being excellent, very good or good. But the other 50% consider their health to be only fair or poor.
The survey found the most common five health issues reported by veterans were:
- Sleep problems (87.5%)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (82.8%)
- Anxiety (80.7%)
- Back, neck or shoulder problems (76.8%)
- Depression (76.5%)
According to the survey, maintaining a healthy weight was also a common problem for veterans. More than 50% of warriors can be considered either obese or morbidly obese and nearly 36% can be considered overweight.
The survey found 47% of the veterans surveyed were deployed at least three times during their military career and most, 92%, have done so at least once since Sept. 11, 2001. Of the veterans surveyed, 70% said they were exposed to environmental hazards.
The study showed 65% of veterans are considered disabled by Veterans Affairs.
And more than 40% reported that their current physical health or emotional problems impact their social activities all or most of the time. According to WWP, the veterans' decreased health also impacts their employment outlook.
"Put your pride aside and seek help from anyone, really, you know. Whether it's the Wounded Warrior Project or whether it's your family, your spouse, your kids, friends -- just build that support system because, at the end of the day, whenever you're having a bad day and all that, that's going to be your anchor," Yui said.
While the survey identified areas of need among post-9/11 wounded veterans, according to WWP, it also showed successes in other areas. The survey found that, this year, 37% of veterans registered with the organization have at least a bachelor's degree, 30% feel better about their financial status than a year ago and 61% own a home.
With the help of organizations such as WWP, veterans can work toward having healthier lives. In 2015, WWP launched a partnership with four top academic medical centers to provide lifesaving clinical mental health care to veterans around the nation. In June, the organization also announced a coalition to advocate for legislation related to harmful environmental exposures during military service.