The realities of chronic pain among U.S. veterans are sobering. The Department of Veterans Affairs can’t actually estimate exactly how many soldiers have chronic pain, since the military mentality of keeping quiet about pain, along with other combat-related side effects, has made it difficult for veterans to admit to their pain.

While there’s no given number, it’s estimated that millions of U.S. veterans are dealing with chronic pain on a day-to-day basis. 

Of those veterans registered with the Department of Veterans Affairs for healthcare, more than half of them experience chronic pain at or above a four on a scale of one to ten. Support groups like Veterans in Pain and Make the Connection have sprung up to help this silent majority.

An initiative launched in 2012, Operation OpioidSafe in Fort Bragg, focuses on the reality of opioid overuse among the veteran population and tries to rescue them from the effects of unhealthy rates of opioid use for pain-related injuries.

With this program, the United States Army attempts to treat pain and injuries with non-pharmaceutical options, such as spinal cord stimulation and neuromodulation.

The program is also balanced by education–instead of focusing only on opioid therapy, it also highlights other treatment options and shares stories from other soldiers in pain. A video compiled by Operation OpioidSafe organizers gets soldiers in front of the camera to talk about how pain and opioid therapy have affected their overall quality of life.

The video is available for anybody to view here and acts as a sobering reminder of the costs of the U.S.’s reliance on opioid therapies. 

We want to hear from you. What have been your experiences with opioid painkillers? How did they affect you? Do you still continue to use them?

Image by U.S. Army via Flickr 

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