Thermal injuries have a deep and far ranging impact on the lives of the service members who receive them. Unfortunately, it’s rare for someone who hasn’t personally dealt with such an injury to understand the hardships faced by Texas’s burned warriors.
Different Categories of Burns
A severe burn is characterized by varying degrees of damage to the skin and underlying tissues caused by heat, chemicals, radiation, and UV rays. From explosions, vehicle accidents, and exposure to chemical weapons, there are many ways military personnel can be burned in the field. Burns are broken down into three categories of increasing severity:
- First-degree burns are generally considered minor, as they only affect the outermost, visible layer of skin. They are characterized by pain and reddening of the skin’s surface.
- Second-degree burns affect the outermost layer of skin (epidermis) and the tissue immediately beneath it (dermis). These burns will cause redness, pain, swelling, and blisters.
- Third-degree burns penetrate the dermis layer to injure deeper tissue, such as muscle or bone. This type of burn causes extreme pain and will often result in substantial scarring.
The Consequences of Severe Burns
Some of the long term and permanent issues arising from second- and third-degree burns include:
- Contractures (tightening of skin in a scarred area, resulting in difficulty moving affected limbs)
- Loss of sweat glands (depriving the body of the ability to regulate in warmer temperatures, making one vulnerable to health complications or death when exposed to the elements)
- Skin health issues (such as extreme sensitivity and greater vulnerability to infections and subsequent injuries)
Veterans with service-connected thermal injuries often have lengthy recovery periods and permanent disability issues. In particular, Texas veterans often need to adjust fundamental aspects of their lifestyles to protect themselves from heat exposure that could further complicate their injuries. However, it may be necessary to seek guidance while navigating the ever-increasingly complicated process of applying for VA disability benefits.
If you are a Texas veteran living with thermal injuries, consider discussing your case with an experienced Houston VA benefits lawyer. The attorneys at Morgan & Weisbrod have helped many wounded warriors secure the support they need as they transition back into civilian life. Call our offices toll-free at 877-898-1581to schedule a free initial consultation.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.