Ask these questions of military service members and all Veterans:
It is important to know whether a patient or an immediate family member has military service. You know that your patients at VA have had military service. It is also important to ask your patients outside of VA "Have you or a loved one served in the military?"
Asking Veterans these questions will provide you with information helpful in understanding patients' medical problems and concerns, and in establishing rapport and therapeutic partnerships with military service members and Veterans. Answers may also provide a basis for timely referral to specialized medical resources.
Unique Health Risks for Each Era of Military Service
Allow your patient to give you permission to ask these questions. Ask all military service members and all Veterans. Gain trust
? General Questions
- Would it be ok if I talked with you about your military experience?
- When and where do you / did you serve?
- What do you / did you do while in the service?
- How has military service affected you?
If your patient answers "Yes" to any of the following, ask:
"Can you tell me more about that?"
- Did you see combat, enemy fire, or casualties?
- Were you or a buddy wounded, injured or hospitalized?
- Did you have a head injury with loss of consciousness, loss of memory, "seeing stars" or being temporarily disoriented?
- Did you ever become ill while you were in the service?
- Were you a prisoner of war?
? Compensation and Benefits
? Sexual Harassment, Assault and Trauma
- Would it be okay to talk about sexual harassment or trauma that you might have experienced while serving in the military?
- Have you ever experienced physical, emotional, or sexual harassment or trauma?
- Is this experience causing you problems now?
- Would you like a referral for some help with that?
Many people find it helpful to get some support.
? Exposure Concerns
Would it be okay if I asked about some things you may have been exposed to during your service?
- What...were you exposed to?
- Chemical (pollution, solvents, etc.)
- Biological (infectious disease)
- Blast or explosion
- Bullet wound
- Shell fragment
- Vehicular crash
- Other injury
- What...precautions were taken? (Avoidance, PPE, Treatment)
- How...long was the exposure?
- How...concerned are you about the exposure?
- Where... were you exposed?
- When... were you exposed?
- Who... else may have been affected? (Unit name, etc.)
? Blood Borne Viruses (Hepatitis and HIV...)
- Were you born between 1945-1965?
- Have you ever had a blood transfusion?
- Have you ever injected or snorted drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine?
- Have you ever been tested for Hepatitis C or HIV?
Would you like a test?
? Living Situation
- Would it be okay to talk about your living situation?
- Where do you live?
- Is your housing safe?
- Are you in any danger of losing your housing?
- Do you need assistance in caring for dependents?
? Stress Reactions / Adjustment Problems
- Would it be okay to talk about stress?
In your life, have you ever had an experience so horrible, frightening, or upsetting that, in the past month, you…
- Have had nightmares about it or thought about it when you did not want to?
- Tried hard not to think about it or went out of your way to avoid situations that reminded you of it?
- Were constantly on guard, watchful, or easily startled?
- Felt numb or detached from others, activities, or your surroundings?
Veterans Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255 (Press 1)