It might not make the headlines very often, but Australian veterans’ health is an important issue.
Ex-servicemen and women – whether they were deployed to Vietnam or other war zones, worked on peacekeeping missions, or dealt with natural disasters on home soil – are at higher risk than the general population of developing mental health disorders.
Maintaining a healthy mind and body is crucial for veterans, as well as their carers and dependants. So, this Veterans' Health Week (September 22 to 30), an initiative of the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA), is focused on nutrition.
Eating well as an ageing veteran
Sticking to a healthy diet can be a challenge as a person grows older.
The amount of energy and nutrition you need is different; your sense of taste and smell changes with age; and your dental health and ability to get and prepare food can all have impacts that you may not have expected.
Veterans’ Health Week is a good time to stop and think about your diet, and make small changes to what you eat. Improving your food habits can have great benefits, such as:
- feeling mentally and physically better
- having more energy for daily activities
- building resistance to illnesses and infections
- sleeping better at night
- being able to cope with stress
- reducing your risk of some health conditions
- keeping your weight under control
You can learn more about healthy ageing at My Aged Care.
Events and resources for all ages
There are plenty of ways that older and contemporary veterans can learn more about health and diet.
- This Veterans Health Week and through to October, events across the country will bring vets and their families together to learn more about healthy eating. From a cooking class with celebrated chef Matt Golinski to pedal-powdered smoothie making, there are more than 140 events planned. Find one near you.
- If you’d like to be a master chef but don’t know where to start, accredited practising dietitian and advisor to the DVA, Tara Diversi, has created simple, healthy recipe cards specifically for veterans and their families. Download them here.
- The DVA has developed a number of apps to help veterans maintain or boost their health and mental wellbeing. ON TRACK with The Right Mix, for example, encourages current and former Australian Defence Force (ADF) members to track their alcohol consumption.
- Discover more about Australia’s dietary guidelines and healthy diet at Eat For Health.
Where to seek help
- As a veteran, you may be eligible for fully funded dietitian services. Visit the DVA for more information.
- Contact the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) for 24-hour free and confidential counselling on 1800 011 046. (Note: from October the VVCS will be known as Open Arms.)
- For more info about all the services available to veterans, check out the DVA site.
Want more like this?
For health and wellbeing news you can use, go to the healthdirect blog.