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3.2. Why Understanding Disability Matters

Due to advances in military medicine and protective equipment, increased numbers of today's servicemembers are surviving the injuries they sustain on the battlefield. However, the changing combat landscape has created a shift in the type and range of injuries experienced.

Though the injuries and subsequent disabilities experienced by servicemembers of any era include those that are visible to others, such as limb/multiple limb loss or severe burns, many are not. Some of the other common injuries associated with military service include a number of those that cannot be seen or easily recognized by someone else, such as back injuries, hearing loss, post-traumatic stress disorder, and mild traumatic brain injury, to name a few. These "unseen" injuries/disabilities are no less significant than those disabilities that are visible. In fact, it is the non-visible injuries that can often cause more confusion and distress to servicemembers, because they are not as easily understood.

It is important for you to take the time to fully understand how your particular disability impacts you especially if you are considering a return to school or work. After all, you were not born with this disability. Part of your recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration into the workforce or an academic setting will be understanding your disability, how it impacts you, and what functional limitations you might experience.

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