Nurses Providing Care to Military Veterans in Civilian Hospitals


The purpose of this continuing nursing education article is to increase nurses’ and other health care professionals’ awareness of appropriate care for military veterans in civilian hospitals. After studying the information presented in this article, you will be able to identify the five branches of the United States military service and their missions, discuss common health-related issues that affect Veterans and explain assessment and care strategies that should be used when treating Veterans in civilian hospitals.


According to a 2012 report published by the United States Census Bureau, there are more than 22 million Veterans living in this country, and over nine million of them are age 65 or older. Recent reports suggest that nearly 75% of Veterans receive medical and nursing care outside of the Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities, meaning they are most likely receiving care from civilian and non-military trained health care providers (Johnson, Boudiab, Freundl, Anthony, Gmerek, & Carter, 2013). These statistics have significant implications for civilian medicalsurgical nurses. Most nursing curricula do not include Veteran-specific care in their programs, so practicing civilian nurses in civilian hospitals have little to no training regarding how to care for the unique needs of Veterans. This article describes some common health related issues for Veterans and tips on how civilian medical-surgical nurses might be able to provide better Veteran-specific care.

Full Reference

MEDSURG Nursing: Official Journal of the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses 24(3):Suppl 4-8 ·June 2015