Military injuries are another form of disadvantage. Mental trauma and physical injuries are common, to the point where some have described them as an "epidemic." Women in particular are subject to sexual trauma as well. The scars from these wounds can last long after someone is eventually discharged from the armed forces.
Military injuries—including psychological trauma—are extremely prevalent among members of the armed forces, regardless of which branch of the military Americans might serve in. These injuries can include those sustained in training or while deployed, and they might be physical and/or emotional.
The Army, for instance, describes the problem of military injuries as an "epidemic." According to a recent report, the rate of injury is 2,500 per every 1,000 soldiers. This means that the average American serving in the Army will endure at least two musculoskeletal injuries. This figure includes injuries sustained both on missions and from Army garrisons.
According to Brown University's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, the most common injuries include: "second and third degree burns, broken bones, shrapnel wounds, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, nerve damage, paralysis, loss of sight and hearing, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and limb loss." Other injuries include "toxic exposure from dust and burn pits and resulting respiratory, cardiac, and neurological disease." As the Watson Institute points out, many of these conditions go undiagnosed meaning that the official Department of Defense figures are likely far lower than the actual numbers.
One of the most common injuries suffered by combat veterans is post-traumatic stress disorder. As many as 20% of all veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Persistent flashbacks, moodiness, or anxiety caused by PTSD can prevent veterans from functioning or working normally. Many who suffer from this condition might go untreated, as stigma surrounding mental illness persists in many communities.
Specifically for women, military sexual trauma and other issues can cause permanent damage. Some 23% of female veterans report being sexually assaulted, and 55% report being sexually harassed, according to the Department of Veteran Affairs. The actual figures are likely even higher, given the number of women who are afraid to report sexual assault for fear of career repercussions.
All of these different injuries can disadvantage people who suffer from them, whether physically or psychologically. These obstacles might mean consequences both for a military career and for any civilian career that might follow. In addition, they can challenge people in their family lives, interpersonal relationships, and day-to-day functioning.