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US veterans and their unique issues: enhancing health care professional awareness

Authors Olenick M, Flowers M, Diaz V

Received 29 May 2015

Accepted for publication 18 August 2015

Published 1 December 2015 Volume 2015:6 Pages 635—639

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/AMEP.S89479

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Maria Olenick

Peer reviewer comments 6

Editor who approved publication: Dr Anwarul Azim Majumder


Maria Olenick,1 Monica Flowers,1 Valerie J Diaz1,2

1Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Science, Florida International University, Miami, FL, USA; 2Operational Health Support Unit Jacksonville, United States Navy Nurse Corps, Jacksonville, FL, USA

Abstract: United States veterans are a multifaceted population with a distinct culture that includes, but is not limited to, values, customs, ethos, selfless duty, codes of conduct, implicit patterns of communication, and obedience to command. Veterans experience mental health disorders, substance use disorders, post-traumatic stress, and traumatic brain injury at disproportionate rates compared to their civilian counterparts. Eighteen to 22 American veterans commit suicide daily and young veterans aged 18–44 are most at risk. Health care professionals must be aware of patients' military history and be able to recognize suicide-risk factors, regardless of age. Advancement in medical technology has allowed servicemen to survive their injuries but, for many, at the cost of a traumatic limb amputation and associated mental scarring. Health care professionals must be able to address physical safety concerns, as well as, emotional health of veterans. Approximately 49,933 American veterans are homeless and face the same difficulties as non-veterans in addition to service-related matters. Separation from military service and issues related to complex multiple deployments are among specifically identified veteran issues. Successful veteran reintegration into civilian life rests upon providing veterans with training that builds on their military knowledge and skill, employment post-separation from service, homelessness prevention, and mental health programs that promote civilian transition. Preparing health care providers to meet the complex needs of a vast veteran population can be facilitated by implementing veteran content into curricula that includes veteran patient simulations and case studies, and utilizes veteran clinical faculty.

Keywords: veterans, veteran health care, veteran health issues, veteran content

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