Pain (often classified as musculoskeletal pain) is one of the most common reasons for medical discharge from the armed forces. It is the number one reason for discharge from the British Armed Forces, while in the US a survey of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan found that almost 57 per cent now have compromised musculoskeletal systems.
A significant number of veterans live with pain from injuries caused by improvised explosive devices and weapons that inflict severe impacts on heads, necks, spines and limbs. Pain is also common in veterans who have experienced several injuries, and it is often accompanied by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The stereotype of the strong soldier who can live through any challenge without complaining or seeking help can create a barrier to finding support for pain and associated mental health issues.