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Military Health History Resources

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.

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?
  • Tell me 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 questions, ask:
"Can you tell me more about that?"

  • Did you have a head injury with loss of consciousness, loss of memory, "seeing stars" or being temporarily disoriented?
  • Did you see combat, enemy fire, or casualties?
  • Were you or a buddy wounded, injured, or hospitalized?
  • Did you ever become ill while you were in the service?
  • Were you a prisoner of war?

Compensation and Benefits

  • Do you have a service-connected condition?
  • Would you like assistance in filing for compensation for injuries/illnesses related to your service?

Call VBA at 1-800-827-1000

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 past experience causing you problems now?
  • Do you want a referral?

Exposure Concerns

  • What...were you exposed to?
    • Chemical (pollution, solvents, etc.)
    • Biological (infectious disease)
    • Physical
      • Blast or explosion
      • Bullet wound
      • Heat
      • Noise
      • Radiation
      • Shell fragment
      • Vehicular crash
      • Vibration
      • Other Injury
    • precautions were taken? (Avoidance, PPE, Treatment)
  • How...long was the exposure?
    • 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, HIV...)

  • Have you ever had a blood transfusion?
  • Have you ever injected drugs such as heroin or cocaine?

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

Veterans Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255 (Press 1)

In your life, have you ever had an experience so horrible,
frightening, or upsetting that, in the past month, you...

  • Would it be okay to talk about stress?
  • 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 Health Concerns

Environmental Exposures

  • Asbestos
  • Burn Pit Smoke
  • Contaminated Water (benzene, trichloroethylene, vinyl chloride)
  • Endemic Diseases
  • Hexavalent Chromium
  • Ionizing & Non-Ionizing Radiation
  • Jet Fuel
  • Lead
  • Mustard Gas
  • Nerve Agents
  • Particulate Matter
  • Pesticides
  • TCDD & other dioxins

Operation Enduring Freedom Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation New Dawn, (OEF/OIF/OND)

  • Animal Bites/Rabies
  • Combined Penetrating, Blunt Trauma, and Burn Injuries (Blast Injuries)
  • Dermatologic Issues
  • Embedded Fragments (shrapnel)
  • Leishmaniasis
  • Mental Health Issues
  • Multi-Drug Resistant Acinetobacter
  • Reproductive Health Issues
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Traumatic Amputation
  • Traumatic Brain
  • Vision Loss

Gulf Wars

  • Chemical or Biological Agents
  • Depleted Uranium (DU)
  • Dermatologic Issues
  • Immunizations
  • Infectious Diseases (i.e. Leishmaniasis)
  • Oil Well Fires
  • Reproductive Health Issues

Vietnam, Korean DMZ, and Thailand

  • Agent Orange Exposure
  • Hepatitis C

Cold War

  • Nuclear Weapons Testing (Atomic Veterans)

World War II / Korea

  • Cold Injury
  • Chemical Warfare Agent Experiments
  • Exposure to Nuclear Weapons (Including Testing or Cleanup)

Additional Resources

Tell your patient about VA's MyHealtheVet website.

Gateway to Veterans Health Benefits and Services that contains:

  • Trusted health information
  • Personal Health Journal
  • Online Prescription Refill
  • Veterans can manage their own health
  • Links to VA Benefits and Resources
  • Links to Federal Resources