Nobody can dispute the fact that military service is a reputable, dignified profession that not every man or woman is suitable for. Only the best get to military service to protect their motherland from inherent risks and threats, and military servants are usually the first and most important guardians of public safety and security. However, it is true that military service causes some irrevocable changes in the person’s health and psyche – surprisingly, even under the condition of not participating in the active combat. For a long time, the devastating impact of military service on the human health has been either overlooked or misunderstood, and only the latest research in the field of psychology and medical achievements have helped those problems surface.
Physical impact of military service is a visible and easiest-recognizable effect thereof. On the one hand, there is a strong tradition in research associating lengthy military service with excellent physical health, since servants are involved in regular exercise and receive well-planned, nutritious meals for support of their physical shape. Moreover, military service is associated with an overall healthier lifestyle changes because of the absence of smoking and alcohol consumption, the individual’s isolation from junk food and drugs, and a presence of a strict life regimen throughout many years of life (Miller, 2012). Such a perspective definitely shows that military service can indeed be healthy, but this approach underscores the negative health effects of services such as potential injuries during training and in the active combat.
A much less pronounced but no less significant effect of military service is the psychological impact. Though military service plays a positive role in the character formation and an individual’s discipline, leading to holistic development of individuals as well-organized, demanding, and competitive personalities, the negative effects are also pronounced, especially among former combatants. For instance, Gewitz and Yousef (2016) pointed out the dramatic prevalence of such disorders as PTSD, depression, anxiety, and vulnerability to developing substance use problems among former civil servants and veterans. In addition to these psychological consequences, many former servants face stigma and psychological barriers to seeking psychological help; as a result, their health problems may remain undetected for a lengthy period of time and aggravate into serious mental illnesses and disabilities.
It is also vital to note the cumulative effect of military service on the human health. As it was pointed out by Wilmoth and London (2013), most contemporary research focuses on the single outcomes of services, while full understanding of its impact on the servant’s well-being requires tracing the life-course trajectories as they unfold across multiple domains. In this way, comprehension of the impact that military service has on health should also incorporate the examination of additional health determinants – education, income, occupation, and marital status – and the ways in which military service affects them.
To sum up the evidence presented above, one should note that being a military servant is a lifelong profession that affects every individual’s life and character and leaves traces on all domains of health and well-being. While military service in the peaceful periods is mostly associated with positive health outcomes such as a healthy lifestyle, a well-organized regimen, regular exercise, and proper self-organization, the situation is different for participants of active combat. For those involved in military activities, the outcomes of military service are mostly adverse, resulting in both physical and emotional traumas further aggravating into serious mental illnesses and health concerns. However, it is also evident that research on the impact that military service’s duration has on the individual is still inconclusive and has many gaps, thus indicating that more variables and factors should be analysed in their entirety to show the true comprehensive influence of the military career on each servant’s life course.
Gewirtz, A. H., & Youssef, A. M. (2016). Parenting and children’s resilience in military families. New York, NY: Springer.
Miller, T. W. (2012). The Praeger handbook of veterans’ health: history, challenges, issues, and developments. Boca Raton, FL: ABC-CLIO.
Wilmoth, J. M., & London, A. S. (2013). Life course perspectives on military service. New York, NY: Routledge.