April 29, 2017
Response by Lisa A. Reed to “Legislative: Providing Veteran-Specific Healthcare” by Jillian Weber and Angela Clark (May 18, 2016).
I am writing in support of the column, “Legislative: Providing Veteran-Specific Healthcare” (Weber & Clark, 2016). It is imperative to educate nurses. Many are unsure of the complexity of caring for a veteran and what direct questions should be asked to ensure their needs are addressed.
To narrow the gap between nursing care and veterans, pilots have been initiated to enhance teamwork between nursing schools and local Veterans Administration (VA) health clinics (Bowman et al., 2011; Morrison-Beedy, Passmore, & D’Aoust, 2015). This will help to establish nurses with hands on training with veterans and encourage further education about the many issues veterans face, such as financial difficulties, family struggles, damaging health issues they have endured, and returning to civilian life.
Addressing the needs of veterans in health care is an ongoing task that all healthcare workers should work toward; the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have increased the number of veterans that need our help. Challenges for the VA include keeping up with needs of our soldiers with multiple physical and mental disabilities incurred in the ongoing wars and caring for our aging soldiers with chronic illnesses and mental disabilities they suffered during their service. By extending the knowledge of veteran care, in every facility, veterans could potentially receive the best care anywhere.
The Military Health History pocket card was developed by the Veterans Health Administration Office of Academic Affairs (2016). These questions provide a start to help clinicians know what to ask a patient who is a veteran. However, there is a need to educate providers about how to deal with the responses our veterans may offer. Will they respond at all?
Collaboration among nursing education programs and VA health clinics will assist nurses to develop skills needed to care for veterans. It is a start to promoting advanced knowledge about veterans’ daily struggles they may need to express; reforming their lives after the military; and encouraging nurses to be sensitive to their complex needs. It is an ongoing issue, but knowing we are moving in that direction gives our veterans the continued respect and support they deserve.
Lisa C. Reed, RN
CMC-Mercy Endoscoy; Charlotte, NC
RN BSN Student, UNC – Wilmington
Bowman, C.C., Johnson, L., Cox, M., Rick, C., Dougherty, M., Alt-White, A.C., … Needleman, J., (2011). The Department of Veterans Affairs (VANA): Forging strategic alliances with schools of nursing to address nursing’s workforce needs. Nursing Outlook, 59(6), 299-307. doi:10.1016/j.outlook.2011.04.006
Morrison-Beedy, D., Passmore, D., & D’Aoust, R., (2015). Military and veteran’s health integration across missions: How a college of nursing “joined forces.” Nursing Outlook, 63(4), 512-520. doi:10.1016/j.outlook.2015.05.004
Veterans Health Administration Office of Academic Affiliations. (2016). Military health history. Retrieved from https://www.va.gov/oaa/archive/Military-Health-History-Card-for-print.pdf
Weber, J., & Clark, A. (2016). Legislative: Providing veteran-specific healthcare. OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 21(2). doi:10.3912/OJIN.Vol21No02LegCol01 Retrieved from http://www.nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/ANAMarketplace/ANAPeriodicals/OJIN/Columns/Legislative/Providing-Veteran-Specific-Healthcare.html