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Military Health History Pocket Card for Health Professions Trainees & Clinicians

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.

Asking the questions on this card will be helpful in understanding my medical problems and concerns

    • Ask these questions in a safe and private place
    • Engage with good eye contact
    • Use a supportive tone of voice
    • Thanks Veterans if they disclose stressful or traumatic experiences
    • If you suspect someone is actively at risk for suicide, DO NOT leave them alone.

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

Unique Health Risks for Each Era of Military Service

Military Health History Pocket Card
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Download Mobile version of pocket card as an Adobe PDF.

Military Health History 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?
  • When and where did you/do you serve and in what branch?
  • What type of work did you do or currently do while in the service?
  • Did you have any illness or injuries while in the service?

 If Veterans answer "Yes" to any of the following, ask:
"Can you tell me more about that?"

  • Did you ever become ill while you were in the service?
  • 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 see combat, enemy fire, or casualties?
  • 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?

    VA Information: 1-800-827-1000 or 844-MyVA311 (698-2311)

  ?      Living Situation

  • Would it be okay to talk about your living situation?
  • Where do you live and who do you live with? Is your housing safe?
  • Are you in any danger of losing your housing?
  • Do you need assistance in caring for yourself and/or dependents?

  ?      Unwanted Sexual Experiences in the Military

  • May I ask you about stressful experiences that men and women can have during military service?
  • Did you have any unwanted sexual experiences in the military? For example, threatening or repeated sexual attention, comments or touching?
  • Did you have any sexual contact against your will or when unable to say no, such as being forced, or when asleep or intoxicated?
  • If Yes: I am sorry, thank you for sharing that. VA refers to this as 'military sexual trauma' or 'MST' and offers free MST-related care.
  • If No: Okay, thank you. I ask all Veterans because VA offers free care related to these experiences.

Ask All Military Service Members and Veterans

  ?       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, weapons, etc.)
      • Biological (infectious diseases, weapons)
      • Psychological trauma or abuse
      • Physical
        • Blast or explosion
        • Munitions or bullet wound
        • Radiation
        • Shell fragment
        • Heat
        • Vehicular crash
        • Excessive noise
        • 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.)

  ?      Behavior

Would it be okay to talk about emotional responses during your service?

      • PTSD: Have you been concerned that you might suffer from Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder? Symptoms can include numbing, re-experiencing symptoms such as nightmares or unwanted thoughts, hyperarousal/being "on guard", avoiding situations that remind you of the trauma, and/or numbing of emotions.
      • Depression: Have you been experiencing sadness, feelings of hopelessness/helplessness, lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, and/or poor sleep?
      • Risk Assessment: Have you had thoughts of harming yourself or others?

  ?      Blood Borne Viruses (Hepatitis and HIV...)

    • Do you have tattoos? Have you ever injected or snorted drugs such as heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine?
    • Have you ever been screened for Hepatitis C or HIV? If not, would you like to be screened for these?