More than half of veterans in pain (54 percent) said that they have been in pain for more than 10 years according to a survey released today by the American Pain Foundation in honor of this weekend's Veterans Day observance. Astoundingly, 70 percent rated the intensity of their pain between a 7 and 10 on a scale of zero to 10 (0=none, 10=worst pain imaginable) on a daily basis.

"Long term pain is highly correlated with the development of post traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, panic attacks and substance abuse. It's also a factor in veteran suicide. The intensity and life-long implications of chronic pain among wounded soldiers is a major concern," said Chester "Trip" Buckenmaier III, MD, Chief, Army Regional Anesthesia and Pain Management Initiative at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Recent studies have highlighted the incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression in veterans, conditions that are often linked to chronic pain. Two-thirds (66 percent) of survey respondents said that they suffer from depression and one-third (34 percent) said that they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Almost one third (29 percent) indicated that they suffer from pain, depression and PTSD.

Additionally, while the majority of respondents (75 percent) said that emotional support was either "moderately" or "very" important, 15 percent stated that they were not receiving any emotional support at all for their pain.

"This survey highlights the critical role of emotional support for those in pain. Our goal is to help provide that support. When people are suffering from pain in their darkest moments, there's simply nothing that can replace connecting with another person who has been through a similar experience to help lift them from despair," said Will Rowe, Executive Director of the American Pain Foundation.

With higher survival rates than in previous wars, more soldiers are coming home. Unfortunately, many of today's wounded combat veterans will face a life of chronic pain. In Vietnam one out of every three soldiers that were wounded died. In Iraq, it's one in eight. And though body armor and rapid evacuation to medical care is saving lives, there are more maimed and shattered limbs than ever before, with instances of amputation double previous rates.

"Veterans and members of the military need to be able to talk to their families about what they're feeling. Mental health issues and depression, although not visible on the outside, can also cause pain, sometimes to the degree that it's all-consuming. But having the right support in place can make an enormous difference in how one copes with their pain," said Mike Suter, Marine Corps Veteran, New York State Chairman for the Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Commission of the American Legion and the Vice Chair for that same committee on the national level of the American Legion.

"Freedom From Pain" Public Service Announcement Campaign Launched

As a part of the effort to raise awareness of resources for veterans in pain, members of the military and their families, the American Pain Foundation has launched the "Freedom from Pain" Public Service Announcement campaign. Print and radio ads will be running across the country through this holiday weekend.

Research has shown that treating pain aggressively from the start can lead to a better outcome in terms of chronic pain. The ads encourage soldiers to seek relief from their pain as opposed to "toughing it out" and direct members of the military and their families to the American Pain Foundation as a resource in dealing with their pain and as a place to find support.

Survey Methodology

The online survey was fielded from October 18-30th nationwide via Internet by the American Pain Foundation. A total of 753 veterans or members of the military replied to the online survey; a subset of 721 respondents indicated that they were in pain.

About the American Pain Foundation

Founded in 1997, the American Pain Foundation is an independent nonprofit 501(c)3 organization serving people with pain through information, advocacy, and support. Our mission is to improve the quality of life of people with pain by raising public awareness, providing practical information, promoting research, and advocating to remove barriers and increase access to effective pain management. For more information, visit painfoundation.

American Pain Foundation

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