Between 4 percent and 17 percent of our military veterans are infected with hepatitis C and unaware that this terrible liver disease, if untreated, can lead to death. In fact, individuals infected with hepatitis C experience no symptoms until they have extensive scarring of the liver (cirrhosis). However, some may have fatigue and other nonspecific symptoms before this occurs.
Hepatitis C blood testing is the only way to know if you are infected with this terrible disease. The remarkably good news is that more than 90 percent of treated veterans have been cured throughout a 12-week period, taking one pill a day.
In this regard, the Mississippi Community Veterans Engagement Board supported by the USM Center for Military Veterans, Service Members and Families is encouraging veterans born between 1945 and 1965 to participate in walk-in hepatitis C testing being offered from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 13 at the Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System, 400 Veterans Ave., in Biloxi. (Veterans should go to Building 30, first floor, for information in the lobby. Park in the parking garage across from Building 30.)
I ask members of our caring community to find a military veteran and encourage them to get tested.
Our nation’s military veterans all gave us some of the best years of their lives. Let’s join together to see what we can do to care for them and help those in need.
Retired Major General
Director, Veteran & Military Affairs, University of Southern Mississippi