Sports in the military are a fundamental part to personal development, morale, operational effectiveness and most importantly, fighting spirit. Deployed troops are always out there fighting for us, typicallly in a foreign; thousands of miles away from those that they love. Understandably, many are the times that they desperately miss their families and time together. Their self-sacrifice and readiness to make a difference deserves merit and appreciation. Soldiers, just like most people, love to play – they need to play – so they make it work even when away on missions.
Forget the Final Four or the Super Bowl – the biggest games in the world don’t have a ref or fans. Interestingly enough, these games are usually played by men and women with much greater worries than their scores. They compete in challenging environments – for example, playing basketball in a makeshift court in the middle of no-where or playing in a hangar in the middle of a desert. It hasn’t always been supported by military leaders that didn’t always believe in off-duty games and particularly in hostile regions; however, this mindset has gradually faded and now most believe that these warriors putting their lives on the line for the nation also need the normalcy of sports.
Sports for deployed troops are usually considered to be an essential part of their routines. However, it doesn’t always happen. Of course, there are times when they can’t make it work. They are fighting a war. To completely realize the value of sports to the military, you must first understand the lives of these men and women. A normal day for a soldier during a mission is characterized by at least 14 hours of work. A soldier will normally work 7 days a week. In a week, you get only half a day to clean your living space and do laundry. While soldiers are usually trained to handle that; it’s reasonable to say they are generally under a lot more pressure than the normal person.
Once work is accomplished, a soldier usually has between 12 and 18 hours before doing it again. It is this period that they use for recreation – when they are not sleeping, eating or showering. There are a reasonable number of recreational options, but sports are a very good escape from the long days. Additionally, sports are also a nice outlet from the combat environment for those feeling stressed by it. Sports played vary depending on geographic location, interest and population. Here are a few common sports that deployed troops engage in:
For starters, soccer is all about the running. As play in soccer is constant, it is a great sport for strength and heart health. Playing recreational soccer doesn’t need a large field or many people. You can make it as simple as having a kick with your pals. Recreational soccer can also be done virtually anywhere – in streets, backyards and even on beaches. All you require is a soccer ball.
It is also the most hip and most played sport in the planet. It is an especially great sport when troops from different units come together. For instance, if you find yourself in a group of British soldiers and need to kill the boredom, then a game of soccer is a great choice.
Common martial arts performed by deployed troops include karate and kung fu. Apart from keeping soldiers fit and healthy at all times, martial arts instills excellent character traits such as hard work, discipline and having a sense of responsibility. Working with a partner is battle training of the best kind. This way, your muscles adapt to change and fatigue giving you the best body exercises possible.
Recreational basketball is so flexible that you can have fun in various ways. You can shoot some hoops by yourself or play a friendly game with your buddies. Basketball, like soccer is highly anaerobic and is great for overall fitness. It’s exercise that comes in bursts of great running and jumping, amid short walks and jogs depending on the game. This continuous rise and recovery of the breathing and heart rates helps in building stamina and enhances your ability to recuperate from exertion.
The military encourages sports among deployed troops because they know that it is vital for people to maintain physical fitness. Additionally, it’s beneficial to help deployed troops in managing their stress. If you ask a soldier the real importance of playing sports while on deployment, they will tell you that it is the only moment that they get to dominate their small “peaceful” world. Afterward, there would be a new mission and soldier life would be back on the line. But in that particular moment, one is virtually only thinking about soccer or whatever it is that they are playing.
Post-Traumatic stress disorder, otherwise known as PTSD, is an anxiety disorder a person may experience following a traumatic event involving personal injury or the threat of death, causing terror, hopelessness, and fear. It is estimated that out of a million troops deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, approximately three hundred thousand have come back with some form of PTSD. And those are just the reported cases.
According to the (NIMH) National Institute of Mental Health, about thirty percent of soldiers who have spent time in war zones, not just Afghanistan and Iraq, have experienced PTSD for varying length of time. An even more alarming statistic is that nearly eight million Americans have the symptoms of Post-traumatic stress at any given time. Most of the PTSD sufferers have never been in an actual war zone, but PTSD has no borders.
Trauma is something that most of us will be forced to cope with at some point in our life journey. In fact, it’s estimated that between fifty to ninety percent of us will have to cope with it at one point or another.
Symptoms of PTSD
Having stress reactions following a traumatic event is normal. Your behavior and emotions can change in ways that are upsetting to you. Although most people have stress reactions following trauma, they get better in time. However, you should seek help if symptoms disrupt your home or work life, last longer than three months, or cause you a lot of distress.
The specific symptoms can vary widely between individuals but generally fall into the categories listed below:
Flashbacks and Reliving the Event
Flashbacks are probably the most common symptom of PTSD. This is when a person vividly and involuntarily re-experiences the traumatic event in the form of:
Distressing and repetitive sentences or images
Physical sensation like trembling, sweating and pain
Emotional Numbing and Avoidance
A vast majority with PTSD simply try to ignore the traumatic event, and push it out of their mind, frequently distracting themselves with work. Other individuals attempt to deal with their emotions by trying not to feel anything. This is recognized as emotional numbing. This can lead to the person becoming withdrawn and isolated.
Feeling on the Edge
Someone with PTSD may be very uneasy and find it hard to relax. They may be aware of threats and easily startled. This state of mind is known as hyperarousal. Hyperarousal can often lead to angry outbursts, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, and irritability
Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosis of this condition is normally done through a physiological exam. The criteria include two hyperarousal symptoms, three avoidance symptoms and at least one re-experiencing symptom. The symptoms must be intense enough to interfere with your routine activities.
Fortunately, there is a myriad of ways anxiety attacks can be treated. Outpatient and therapy prescription Medicare are means that have long since been proven to be a success. Those that are suffering from this condition should seek medical advice from a qualified medical healthcare professional to discuss various treatment options.
There are many types of treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. You and your doctor will discuss the best treatment for you. You may have to try some treatments before you find one that works for you. Treatment, however, is usually a combination of resolution of ongoing traumas and talk therapy.
Psychotherapy in conjunction with medications has been shown to be very effective for the treatment of this condition. You don’t have to suffer in silence. There is help if you feel you’re experiencing PTSD.
The good news is that there is hope for those who suffer from PTSD. The first step for soldiers returning or any veteran suffering from PTSD is to go to their local Veterans Hospital and get the diagnosis. PTSD is very common in those who have served in the armed forces and can occur as the result of any trauma in life. Help is available.
For many years, a soldier’s lost limb meant a life limited to crutches or a wheelchair, and ejection from active service. But a growing number of injuries in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, while dreadful, have led by necessity to developments in prosthetics technology. Some amputee service members have been able to stay on active duty, thanks to experience gained by their doctors.
According to the United States Army, more than two hundred soldiers who have had their limbs amputated (complete loss of a leg, foot, hand or arm) have stayed on active duty since the beginning of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, with some returning to the battlefield. Many others have resumed working in patronage roles behind the lines.
The History of Prosthetics
Prosthetics are artificial body parts used for different purposes. They are mostly custom made to meet the needs of the patients. They help patients restore abilities they have lost as a result of some illness, medical condition, birth defect or accidents.
Prosthetics have been dated back as the Egyptian dynasty of 2750 B.C. while the earliest recorded referenced coming two thousand years later around 500 B.C. when a prisoner is to have reportedly cut off their foot to escape and replaced it with a wooden substitute.
Common Prosthetics for Soldiers
One of the most common prosthetics is the prosthetic leg. This is because there are a lot of diseases and injuries that affect the lower part of the body. For instance, a soldier might lose a leg from rocket-propelled grenades or incoming RPGs during war. To be able to run and walk again, the prosthetic leg is required. They will allow an amputee to walk normally and do other activities as long as they are designed to do such tasks. Most prosthetic legs are made of pylon. This material is long lasting and it does not wear out easily.
The prosthetic arm is a lot more intricate than its leg counterpart because hands do complex activities such as grasping things. Centuries ago, prosthetic arms were not capable of moving according to the will of the user. But thanks to the advancement in technology, they are more real than ever before. Robotic arms are now being made so that they can move according to how the patient wants them to. Though the accuracy is still not the same as a real hand, advances are being pursued.
Some prosthetics are installed internally to support bones that have been damaged inside the body. A good example of this is the hip bone. Around 60 percent of accidents involve hip bone damage. A lot of materials can be used for the hip prosthetic. Some use metal or metal alloys for the complete hip bone while others use a combination of plastics and metal. Nowadays, some people are even using ceramic. Although ceramic is new in the world of prosthetics, it has proven to be one of the best materials that you can use for prosthetics used inside the body.
Proper Prosthetic Care
Building good prosthetic requires a lot of hard work. Proper skin care and limb care is vital to your mobility and health. To avoid bacterial and fungal infections, trapped sweat, abrasions, discomfort and swelling, here are some tips on how to take care of your skin and extremity.
How to Take Care of Your Artificial Limb
If you have a prosthetic which is replaced below the knee, never sleep or sit with a pillow under the knee. Otherwise, you’ll have a hard time straightening your knee.
Avoid resting your knee over the handle piece of your crutches.
Try staying active by doing a lot of stretching exercises. This helps to straighten your knee and hip and increase your overall comfort.
For an artificial limb that is placed above the knee, it is important not to sleep with it on.
Your limb tends to swell in hot water as it dangles when you sit or stand in the shower. This will make it hard for you to put it on. That is why showering at night will help avoid swelling by elevating the limb.
If you have an artificial limb fitted just above your knee, avoid sleeping with it on as much as possible. When the hip is resting on a pillow, this promotes hip flexion or inability to straighten the hip. The best way is to place a pillow between your legs. This will help lengthen the inner thigh muscle and shorten the outer thigh muscle so when you walk you can stand with your feet apart.
Skin Care Tips for Prosthetic Patients
To avoid bacterial and fungal growth, it is important to wash your prosthetic with some detergent and water.
Use softening creams if the skin is extremely dry and at risk of cracking.
Do not use alcohol or unknown chemicals on the limb.
That serves as a short summary of the most common prosthetics being used by soldiers today to lead a normal life.
The life of a soldier can be very hard and demanding. However, there are also mahy benefits associated with being part of the military. Hard work, determination, and selflessness are the core values that drive the hearts and minds of soldiers. Soldiers are known to give their lives for the sake of their country without fear or complaint. They are expected to follow orders and produce results in all tasks and assignments given to them. The following are some of the challenges that soldiers go through in their days of service. This will make you appreciate them even more.
The Call to Patriotism
Patriotism is the euphoric passion that drives one to serve his/her country. The call to patriotism is not easy as soldiers protect the welfare of their country even to the point of death. When two nations are at loggerheads and decide to go to war, it’s only the soldiers that go into battle to defend their country’s interest while other citizens watch. For this reason, soldiers should be highly appreciated for this selfless gesture of risking their lives.
Lack of Good Sanitation
Proper hygiene is a major threat to the health of many soldiers. In hostile environments, soldiers choose to focus on staying safe and fiercely attacking the enemy. In such scenarios, their primary focus is trying to stay alive leaving no room for bathing, brushing their teeth or wearing clean clothes.
Moreover, there are no breaks for proper sanitation in the battlefield. This leads to the exposure of deadly diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and tuberculosis. Lack of supplies such as soap, toothpaste, and clean water can reduce cleanliness in the areas where personal hygiene is a concern and cause illnesses.
Going through hardship is a must for every soldier. Hardships don’t start in the battlefield but during training. Soldiers have to persevere through dangerous and difficult training programs that are almost unbearable to them. According to the Navy Seal reports, only fifty percent of the seals successfully finish the entire training program. Some get sick on the way while others feel like it’s torture and quit. The training programs include sleepless nights and extreme workouts that bring out the best in every soldier.
Other hardships faced during battle are the loss of friends and comrades, injuries, hunger and poor sanitation. Long term hardships caused by war include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a life limited to crutches or a wheelchair. When a soldier returns home from the battlefield having lost most of his/her friends, he/she may end up committing suicide because of unbearable PTSD.
Lack of Proper Recognition
It very disheartening for soldiers who emerge from the battlefield as victors and the government fails to recognize their efforts. Nowadays, war veterans get little or no proper recognition despite their hard work and achievements. It can be very emotionally painful when you put your life on the line for the sake of your country and are not credited for it. For this reason, all soldiers should be personally recognized and awarded for their efforts. When the culture of appreciating our military force is cultivated, many soldiers will have great love and enthusiasm while serving our great nation. This, in turn, will lead to an increase in the overall performance of our military and defense force.
Missing Loved Ones
Soldiers have to endure the discomfort of being away from their family members and friends each and every day. Going to war is no easy thing. Furthermore, war doesn’t guarantee your safe return home. Admittedly, going to war and leaving your family behind not knowing whether you will make it back in one piece can be very stressful and heartbreaking. Soldiers that spend many years outside the country become homesick and are often distracted. Consequently, they may end up being distracted and die in battle.
On the other hand, missing loved ones can also trigger positive attributes in the performance of a soldier. For instance, a soldier may perform better in combat with the aim of winning and returning home.
Lack of Conjugal Opportunities
Being in the military is like being confined for some time and soldiers often sacrifice their conjugal rights for the sake of their nation. Sometimes they can go for years without having sex as their priority is to protect and serve their nation.
Soldiers sacrifice their life to serve and protect their country. They put their interests on hold; get separated from their loved ones and go to life-threatening territories to safeguard their nation. Therefore, all soldiers whether experienced or not should always be treated with respect, honor, and gratitude. Undoubtedly, our military force is the root of peace and prosperity.
You have spent the last several years diligently serving your country in the army. Now you’re out and ready to resume life as a civilian. What should you do first? Where do you start?
The process of transitioning out of the military poses its own unique set of challenges. While the armed forces train soldiers well in leadership and technical skills and do provide soldiers with many useful resources as they exit, there are some things that the military does not prepare you for when re-entering civilian life.
Tasks like landing a job and supporting your family can be difficult after years of service. Other factors like injuries from your time during deployment and stress disorders that veterans often experience after service can make it harder to adapt to civilian life.
After you have returned from deployment and are readjusting to life at home with your family, remember these tips to ensure that your transition is as easy and smooth as possible.
It’s never too early to start thinking about your life after service. You have been dreaming about this next phase for so long; put your plans into motion early.
Take it Slow
Patience is key when adjusting to a new lifestyle, especially when its change in carrier. Try to plan ahead so that you can take at least a short vacation as you transition. Besides having fun on holiday, you will find that opportunities you never thought of will pop-up when you least expect it. A little effort, adjustment and time are all it takes to get back on track.
Prepare For a Job Hunt
A good place to start is with your dreams. What do you want to do? What do you love? By asking yourself these questions you can better understand what would work out for you. If you love being outdoors, maybe working as a ranger would be best for you. Alternatively, you might decide to become a teacher or an accountant. The choices are endless, but decisions based on your passions will be more enjoyed in the future.
Admittedly, finding a job is one of the toughest aspects of the transition. As the job market is extremely competitive, it is important that you are using all of the resources at your disposal and working on your job hunting abilities, such as your resume and interview skills.
Utilize Military Workshops and Programs
Irrespective of the military branch you’re in, there are workshops and other programs offered to help with the change from military to civilian life. So, you should utilize these, especially in the final months of service, to help prepare you for your transition into civilian life.
The Transition Assistance Program provided by the department of defense is a great program for veterans adjusting to life after service; you will get a transition counselor to help you choose the right path to start down.
Utilize Social Media
As a veteran, trying to keep up with the latest social media developments can be difficult. During deployment, access to online technology and social media is restricted. Understanding how social media works can help veterans in the interview process since it can be linked into time management and communication skills.
Most employers use platforms like twitter and Facebook to interact with the public and promote their businesses. So, it’s important that you learn the basics of these platforms.
Learn to Diversify
Even if you have permanently been military personnel, maybe you have also dreamed about starting your business. This is the perfect time. The army has you equipped with a unique skillset and strong base, you’re flexible, and now may be the ideal time to transition between carrier fields and from a soldier to a citizen.
Have a Transition Plan for Your Family
It is not always a good idea to move back to your hometown after retirement from service. Often times, your military move takes care of all your relocation costs to the city of your new job. Make sure you sign up for gap insurance for you and your family. Otherwise, if your job search extends for more than ninety days after separation you won’t be covered.
Avoid Using Military Jargon
Yes. You need to be eloquent in both corporate civilian and civilian. Terms such as “WILCO” seem like common words to those with military backgrounds. However, it is a completely different language for civilians. Just drop the jargon if you want to succeed in the corporate world. Last but not least, you need to know how to communicate between different ranks of people if you’re going corporate.
Both civilian and military life is different. So, it will take a while to adjust as you become accustomed to your new life. The choices you make in the next few months will likely affect much of your civilian life so don’t make any rush decisions.