The veteran population is forever growing and as many of our veterans

The veteran population is forever growing, and as many of our veterans receive their healthcare at the VA hospital, just as many of them do not. Veteran patients are inherently different, and it is imperative that all health care professionals are aware of their distinct military culture. Because veterans have unique experiences that warrant special consideration in healthcare, veteran centered care should be included in all healthcare professional education content. Keywords: [Click here to add keywords.]US veterans and their unique issues: enhancing health care professional awarenessMany people ask “Is the VA hospital really that much different from what veterans find in the private sector?’ Yes, it is, and for a multitude of reasons. Many of the essential services that are provided by the VA cannot be found in the private sector. The VA has several strengths, values, and missions that differentiate its services from those of the private sector. The VA mission statement : To fulfill President Lincoln’s promise “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan” by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s Veterans.” Lays way for their core values: “VA’s five core values underscore the obligations inherent in VA’s mission: Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect, and Excellence. The core values define “who we are,” our culture, and how we care for Veterans and eligible beneficiaries. Our values are more than just words – they affect outcomes in our daily interactions with Veterans and eligible beneficiaries and with each other. Taking the first letter of each word—Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect, Excellence—creates a powerful acronym, “I CARE,” that reminds each VA employee of the importance of their role in this Department. These core values come together as five promises we make as individuals and as an organization to those we serve. The VA brings together comprehensive expertise on service-connected health issues in a single health care system. Health care professionals there are trained to identify, assess, and treat a wide spectrum of health issues. Coupled with that, are specialist who have expertise in the treatment of mental health issues, substance abuse, suicide prevention and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Providing high quality care to US military veterans is a national priority that should be taught to all health care professionals, not just those working in the Government sector. [Heading 1]This article focuses on the distinct military culture, their specific health issues, but most importantly incorporating veteran centered content into health care professional education and curricula. “Military culture includes, but is not limited to, the values, customs, traditions, philosophical principles, ethos, standards of behavior, standards of discipline, teamwork, loyalty, selfless duty, rank, identity, hierarchy, ceremony and etiquette, cohesion, order and procedure, codes of conduct, implicit patterns of communication, and obedience to command (LD Purnell, University of Delaware and Florida International University, personal communication, January, 2015). Veteran centered care should expose trainees and students to the unique needs of service members though educational content in military culture, and communication. With the ever-increasing number of military members reintegrating back into civilian life each year, it is important that health care professionals in civilian health care facilities are privy of their needs. “Veteran centered care ensures optimal health care through provider attentiveness to the specific implication of previous military service on patients life circumstances and needs” Veterans carry a much greater risk of suicide than their civilian counterparts. They make up more than 14 percent of all suicides, although they account for only 8 percent of the total population. 18 to 22 American veterans commit suicide daily, and young veterans age 18-44 are at the highest risk. This is prime example of why it is so important to enhance healthcare professional awareness of US veterans and their unique needs. Most health care professionals are more than likely aware of this specific statistic: “The highest suicide rate is among adults between 45 and 54 years of age. The second highest rate occurred in those 85 years or older.” This solely applies to US civilian population military members not taken into account, and thus misleads civilian healthcare professionals. If awareness of military specific health concerns is not increased, identifying and treating the greatest risk group will go undone in the civilian healthcare settings, which may unknowingly encounter veterans in their practice. Veterans have specific health issues and they include: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) depression, suicide, chronic pain, amputations, rehabilitation care, hazardous exposure, and homelessness. Johnson Found that cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption is higher among veterans than non-military personal. One commonly associated health issues of military veterans, PTSD; is not limited only to military members. PTSD affects 36% of male veterans compared to only 8% of non-military member. Less than 50% of private practice primary care providers regularly perform screening test for PTSD and depression. In addition, only 15% of community based mental health providers are proficient in treating military and deployment-related issues such as PTSD. And less than 20% of PCP’s have sufficient military culture competence to take a veteran’s military history. Being culturally conscious, or even culturally sensitive in healthcare is paramount. It combines centering your care around the patient along with understanding the cultural and social influences that may affect your care plan, and services provided. Lack of military cultural consciousness can be a specific barrier to care for veterans who feel that the providers “just don’t get it” Many health care professionals don’t understand that people in the military, regardless of branch or era are guarded about information they give. In the military it is drilled into your head not to give up any information about yourself or anything else for matter. That barrier alone can be broken down being aware of the culture, understanding why they present as guarded and creating a safe military member space to bring the person to the point where it’s ok to let some of their guard down. “In the context of veteran centered care, patient-orientated communication may help elicit how military affiliation may influence a patients attitude and behavior towards their healthcare, and uncover service related medical concerns. By enhancing military cultural consciousness, the potential to has (https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/) https://www.va.gov/about_va/mission.asp[Heading 2]1Surprisingly, military service is often overlooked as part of the patient’s medical history, says Brown. Military service affects various aspects of a patient’s history. (i.e. medical, social, family, occupational and psychiatric) and all of these things impact clinical diagnosis and treatments. How can health care professionals provide the best care possible, if they are completely unaware? The very first step would be to understand. Understanding the needs of this dynamic group would be best accomplished by adding veteran specific context to curricula. Just think, in nursing school, we cover a plethora of group\population specific teachings i.e.: elderly patients, surgical patients, infant and adolescent patients, dementia patients, terminally ill patients, maternity patients etc. Each of these individualized teachings highlight the unique issues that we should expect to encounter when caring for this specific population. If veteran specific content were integrated into the curricula it will greatly contribute positive health care outcomes for them. Imagine the knowledge you gain from your elderly patient specific teaching. You know all about the changes in neurological functioning, you know about psychosocial problems of aging, as well as elder abuse and financial concerns. As nurses we are always learning, we never know everything there is to know about nursing. Curriculum changes, lectures differ, expectations increase, but one thing that stays consistent for a heath care professional is our dedication to patients in ensuring they receive the appropriate and necessary care. Acknowledging veterans as a distinct population and providing specific principles and content in the curricula, and even including clinical rotations at military health centers would improve the overall assessment, triage and treatment skills for this multifaceted population

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