Have you ever served? This is the question the American Academy of Nursing (Academy) has set forth as its latest initiative concerning Veterans’ healthcare. Read More.
Article on University of Alabama at Birmingham Medicine partnering with Joining Forces and adopting the Academy's Have You Ever Served in the Military? initiative. Read more
Rose Constantino, a fellow of the Academy, expressed her concerns about Veteran care in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette and urged private sector clinicians to ask, "Have you ever served in the military?"
Diana Mason, president of the American Academy of Nursing, and Linda Schwartz, past president of the National Association of State Directors of Veteran Affairs, had a letter to the editor published in the New York Times about the importance of the initiative given the revelations at the VA.
Connecticut's VA Commissioner: Asking a Simple Question can be a "Real Game Changer" to Improve Health
Leading Nursing Organization to Improve Quality of Veterans’ Healthcare
Have you ever served in the military? is a simple but very important question that nurses and other healthcare providers will now be asking their patients. Military service members may have been exposed to environments that could lead to adverse health risks—risks that healthcare providers need to know to serve veterans better.
On Labor Day, Cheryl Sullivan, the CEO of the American Academy of Nursing, announced at the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs (NASDVA) conference a new awareness campaign to improve the health of veterans. The campaign, “Have you ever served in the military?,” encourages healthcare providers to ask about their patients’ military background.
“This single question, ‘Have you ever served in the military?,’” asserts Linda Schwartz, a fellow in the Academy and commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Veteran’s Affairs, “can be the key to timely and adequate assessments, diagnosis, and treatment.”
Less than 20% of all veterans receive care within the VA healthcare system. Harold Kudler, MD, associate director, VA Mid-Atlantic Health Care Network Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center, noted that “56% of community providers don’t routinely ask their patients about being a current or former member of the armed forces or a family member.” While VA healthcare providers may be familiar to military-related occupational and environmental hazards, many civilian healthcare providers may not be fully aware. Through Have you ever served in the military?, the American Academy of Nursing seeks to address these major gaps in veterans’ healthcare.
NASDVA, which represents all US states and territories, endorsed Have you ever served in the military?. The NASDVA resolution states that this campaign “will ultimately raise the quality of health assessments and, most importantly, appropriate diagnosis and treatment of the military members.” (http://bit.ly/AAN-NASDVA)
Have You Ever Served in the Military? represents the Academy’s commitment to former First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden’s Joining Forces campaign, which mobilized all sectors of the community to support Veterans and their families. Nurses, healthcare’s equivalent to the boots on the ground, are uniquely positioned to facilitate a fundamental change in care which ensures vital military service information is obtained and recorded in order to improve the quality of healthcare provided to our Veterans and their families.
One example of a Veteran health risk not common to civilians: Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, who worked or slept near open-air burn pits, may have been exposed to multiple toxins. These toxins can lead to an increased risk for respiratory illnesses and a variety of cancers, including leukemia.
Nurses and other healthcare providers are given a pocket card listing the most common health concerns linked to military service, as well as questions the provider should ask the Veteran or his or her family member in order to obtain a more complete military medical history. This information assists providers in identifying possible health factors or illnesses related to service, and decreases the time between diagnosis and treatment.
In 2013, the Academy, with the endorsement and assistance of the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs (NASDVA), launched Have You Ever Served in the Military? in 10 states: Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas, Virginia, and Washington. By April 2015, Have You Ever Served in the Military? was rolled out in all 50 states.
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For more information, visit www.HaveYouEverServed.com.
About the Academy
The American Academy of Nursing (www.AANnet.org) serves the public and the nursing profession by advancing health policy and practice through the generation, synthesis, and dissemination of nursing knowledge. The Academy's more than 2,000 fellows are nursing's most accomplished leaders in education, management, practice, and research. They have been recognized for their extraordinary contributions to nursing and health care. Over 75 Academy fellows have served or currently serve in the uniformed military.