The Veterans Health Administration published a study in 2009 which found half of U.S. troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan return dependent on tobacco. Tobacco use has become a quiet, ominous, and very expensive threat to military personnel.
There are numerous reasons soldiers use to justify their smoking. Some of the more common are:
- Smoking is the only social activity soldiers are allowed during the day;
- The high-risk and high-stress situations of every day combat serve as triggers; and
- Serving multiple deployments – for the soldiers smoking on deployment, it is unreasonable to be expected to quit for the couple months they are home between rotations.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) must institute smoking cessation programs. The strong culture of tobacco use in the military is evidenced by the $1.6 billion the Department of Defense (DoD) spends every year on:
- Tobacco-related medical care; and
- Lost productivity.
Despite soldiers’ claims to the contrary, tobacco is not a stress reliever. Rather, tobacco is a vehicle to dire consequences. In the military, especially among troops stationed in combat arenas, possible consequences from smoking don’t seem so bad when you’re on the receiving end of enemy fire. The vast majority of combat soldiers are young and still of the mindset that they will deal with any smoking consequences once they get older.
The Army and the Marine Corps contain the highest population of smokers and unsurprisingly, they are the two branches in the military deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan for the most amount of time. Soldiers that have experienced combat are twice as likely to use tobacco as soldiers that have not.
Learn more about the military’s effort to stamp out tobacco use among soldiers.
If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, contact Veterans Help Group. You may be entitled to certain programs and benefits so contact our veterans disability rights firm today.