Our veterans deserve the best. Veterans Day has a long history, originating as Armistice Day on Nov. 11, 1919—the first anniversary of the end of World War I. By 1938, November 11th became a national holiday. Not to be confused with Memorial Day, which is the fourth Monday in May and honors service members who died in service to their country or as result of injuries incurred during battle, Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans, living and deceased, who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.
Veterans are at triple the risk of developing chronic lung disease compared to the general population. Occupational lung disease can come from exposure to cigarette smoke, sand, dust, chemicals, airborne heavy metal and chemical particles from exploded munitions, aeroallergens found in desert regions and smoke from burn pits.
We’re thankful for all of our service men and women. The Lung Institute is here to help you better understand how veterans may develop a chronic lung disease and what’s being done to help veterans fight those lung diseases.
Statistics on Veterans and Lung Disease
According to the Veteran’s Administration (VA), over 14 percent of veterans who are deployed to a combat zone develop lung disease. Consider these statistics:
Overall Statistics for Veterans and Lung Disease
- Veterans are 4 percent more likely to develop a chronic lung disease, such as COPD or emphysema, than civilians.
- Over 6 percent of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan sought treatment for a pulmonary condition.
- Between 2005 and 2009, the VA tested 80 soldiers returning from combat for chronic bronchitis. Of those tested, 45 percent developed the disease, and 66 percent of those diagnosed had never smoked.
Stats for Veterans of Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan were exposed to many irritants, including:
- Air pollution from burn pits and the burning of trash using jet fuel.
- Airborne explosive residue
- Aeroallergens such as date palm pollen
- Airborne sand and dust
How many veterans are there in the United States?
Currently, there are approximately 23.2 million military veterans in the United States, 9.2 million veterans over 65, 1.9 million veterans under 35 and 1.8 million veterans who are women. Five states have more than 1 million veterans within their population. California has the most veterans at 2.1 million. Next are Florida and Texas with 1.7 million veterans each. Finally, 1 million veterans reside both in New York and in Pennsylvania. As time goes on, more veterans will likely develop COPD, chronic bronchitis, pulmonary fibrosis and other chronic lung diseases, and they will need treatments tailored to their needs.
While more research is needed to better understand the risk of lung disease in veterans, there is hope for veterans with chronic lung diseases. Treatment options are available, such as medications, oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation and stem cell therapy.
What’s being done to help veterans fight lung disease?
Traditional medications like bronchodilators and corticosteroids work to manage lung disease symptoms. They can typically be used in combination with other therapies as well. Stem cell therapy works to promote healing from within the lungs, potentially addressing the disease at its source and improving lung function.
In fact, many people report feeling better after treatment, and some are able to reduce or stop using oxygen therapy under the care of their doctor. Most people notice small changes at first, such walking a little more and getting dressed without feeling out of breath. Over time, many people say that they can breathe easier and live a more active lifestyle again.
At the Lung Institute, we are grateful for the service of our military and armed forces, and we’re glad to provide an alternative treatment option for veterans and civilians with chronic lung diseases. If you or someone you love has COPD, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, pulmonary fibrosis or another chronic lung disease and would like more information about stem cell treatment options, contact us at (800) 729-3065.