Missing Out on Their Youth

Veterans Affairs Department scientists say returning Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans’ bodies appear to be aging at an accelerated rate, reports USA Today. In addition to the psychological signs of post-traumatic stress and the effects of traumatic brain injuries, many former military personnel in their 20s and 30s are showing alarming early signs of heart disease and diabetes, slowed metabolisms, and obesity—maladies that usually surface later in life, states the newspaper’s Sept. 6 report. “They should have been in the best shape of their lives,” said William Milberg, a Harvard Medical School professor of psychology involved in this research. He added, “The big worry, of course, is we’re going to be taking care of them until they’re in their 70s. What’s going to happen to them in the long run?” Researchers still aren’t sure that their hypothesis is correct, according to the report. However, medical personnel are hoping they can get ahead of the problem “rather than waiting out 20 years to see [the combat veterans] wind up with early death and stroke and cardiovascular disease,” said Ann Rassmusson, a psychiatrist and neurobiologist.