Showing posts from November, 2014

Veterans Day

First of all, Happy Veteran's Day! Big thanks to those brave men and women who fight to protect our country and people. I hope I am not being insensitive or making light of the magnitude of what our veterans do for us, but I thought this would be a good time to highlight two other issues (of public health) that are extremely near and dear to me.
The first is mental health. We know that veterans experience an extreme change in their social, physical, and emotional demands upon return from active duty. Due to these changes and higher chances of physical and emotional trauma in the field, veterans are at very high risk for developing mental health problems (including PTSD, depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, among others) that impact their relationships, ability to re-integrate, and their general health. While there are many important actions being taken to improve the state of mental health in this country, the rate at which progress is occurring is slow. Please consider making a donation to your local VA Hospital today or calling your newly elected congressperson to highlight the importance of improving mental health care (not just for veterans, but for everyone) and decreasing stigma surrounding it.
The second is vaccination. What does vaccination have to do with Veterans Day, you ask? Good question. Let me ask you this: Why do we support our troops? Naturally, the answer is because they fight to protect us and our freedoms. In short, we respect and value their sense of civic duty, and their commitment to protecting their country. Vaccination is really fulfilling this same civic duty on a smaller scale. Veterans put their lives at risk constantly, which makes them a full three or four tiers more reverable than those of us who get vaccinated (for which the risk of long-term adverse effects is literally one in millions), but by doing so, you or your child are protecting others in your community who are not able to get vaccinated. You are, in a sense, performing a service to your country and to your community because you are capable, so those who can't perform that service (the elderly, very young children, people with chronic illness, people with poor immune systems) are still safe and protected. I know that as vaccines become more common, we don't see many of the diseases they prevent, but losing that high level of vaccination in the community makes all of us vulnerable, much the same way that lapses in national security do. For every story I've heard about someone that had an adverse event after vaccination (whether caused by the vaccine or not), I've seen countless videos of babies blue in the face from coughing with pertussis and feverish and listless covered in measles rash. It's not just a matter of protecting yourself and your own children, but a matter of civic duty. Doing your part to your community and for your friends. So I urge you, there are an abundance of sites out there trying to give accurate information about vaccines. One of my favorites is the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Learn everything you can about these diseases and their vaccines and get yourself and your child vaccinated today.
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