Respond in one or more of the following ways:
Health care needs of returning military and their families
Deployment, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), balancing family with long work hours are all part of an everyday military life. Mental, physical and social changes occur on a daily basis, affecting the health care needs of our military. However, events and issues like these can affect veterans and their families throughout their lives, even though they deserve the best, veterans can be neglected. From personal experience, military life is unique. A community within a community, fighting for our nation’s best interest. This paper reflects how we as nurses can be the best advocate for them.
Health Care Needs
Looking at health needs of veterans and their families, they can be physical, psychological or psychosocial. Physical includes combat injury which links closely with psychological concerns including PTSD and substance abuse: drugs and alcohol (Spelman, Hunt, Seal & Burgo-Black, 2012). Psychosocial effects the family directly, including marital, financial instability and social isolation. Together all these have a significant impact on the everyday life, and the reorientation from deployments and adjustment back into the community (Spelman et al., 2012).
Nurse Advocate for Military
Nurses are in the frontline of health care. Therefore, nurses are in the critical position to speak out and be the best advocate for our clients (Laureate, 2012). However, providing safe and high-quality health care is a collaboration effort, working in unity with other health care professionals and administrators (Milstead, 2016). The American Nurses Association (ANA) operates in unison with the Veterans Health Administration and the Department of Defense as advocates to improve veterans’ health care needs. Another valuable advocacy agency is Mental Health America; with over 200 associates in 41 States, they provide both current and former military with information to prevent the stigma related to mental health issues like PTSD and addiction, assisting in the reintegrating into family life (Mental Health America, 2016). With nurses working in unison with organizations like these, promotes success for implementing and changing public health policy.
Development of Advocacy Skills
According to K. Tomajan, author of Advocating for Nurses and Nursing, all nurses are capable and have the opportunity to make an invaluable impact on their profession (2012). By being an advocacy for their profession and their clients they can improve care, making positive changes for the future of health care (Tomajan, 2012). By using education, evidence-based knowledge and working in unison with other health care professionals and administrators, we can build a healthcare system with the patient at the center. Although advocacy starts in nursing school, it does not stop there with the filing away the information but continues to grow in all aspects of the profession throughout the nurses life (Begley, 2010).
Another way of developing advocacy skills is by joining and being actively involved in organizations like the ANA or the National Association of School Nurses. These both provide advocacy skills, webinars, conferences and connections to other like-minded people, promoting, supporting and changing the health care for our future.
Nurse Advocate Responsibility
From Florence Nightingale to present day, it has been the nurse’s responsibility to be an advocate; initially for their patients but now also for the developing healthcare (Begley, 2010). Today nurse are encouraged to have a questioning attitude, work in collaboration with other health care professionals and be the voice of health care to ensure the safety of the patient (Begley, 2010). Also, the professional Code of Ethics for Nurses gives nurses a sets standard of care to work within, having sound knowledge and a responsibility to do what is in the client’s best interests (Begley, 2010).
When applying accountability and nurse advocacy to practice, nurses need to speak out and be the voice of their clients. In the case of the veterans, an example can be observing, implementing and evaluating a program to assist in the adjustment for school age children to deployed family members, and monitoring the reintegration into family life. Also, military spouses play a vital role in the rehabilitation of veterans after deployment. By working together, implementing a rehabilitation team, we can assist spouses to adapt and understand behavior, reuniting the family as a unit, providing a healthier and better outcome in their life.
Throughout history, nurses have always been at the forefront of health care delivery. Today nurses remain at the center of healthcare, and it is essential that nurses continue to grow to shape our future. So by working in collaboration with other health care professionals and administrators, advocating for the best interests of our patients using evidence-based research, we can provide the best health care for our clients, military and non-military.
Begley, A. M. (2010). On being a good nurse: Reflections on the past and preparing for the future. International Journal of Nursing Practice.
Laureate Education (Producer). (2012g). The needle exchange program. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Mental Health America. (2016). Military Mental Health.
Milstead, J. A. (2016). Health Policy and Politics: A nurse’s guide. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning
Spelman, J. F., Hunt, S. C., Seal, K. H. & Burgo-Black, A. L. (2012). Post deployment care for returning combat veterans. Journal of General Internal Medicine.
Tomajan, K. (2012). Advocating for nurses and nursing. Online Journal of Issues in Nursing