This paper explores the health concerns of older veterans and how civilian nurses can offer applicable care to this patient group, through increased understanding of military culture and awareness of health concerns associated with specific conflicts, for example the Vietnam war (1955-1973).
The consequences of each war present themselves in many ways and differently within a veteran's lifetime. For civilian nurses to give applicable, vital care to the older veteran, they need to deeply appreciate the military culture, the strength of the ethos, as well as the various health concerns connected with the individual war/conflict. Attentiveness to the evolving health issues of older veterans are a priority at a time when many personal developmental changes are also creating life stressors for the Vietnam veterans and they are often presenting to civilian health facilities for their care. This article explores the controversial war within Vietnam (1955–1973), and the use of the universal question of “Have you ever served in the military?” An incremental veteran health assessment is discussed in order to care for the specific, prior-era physical/behavioral issues of post-traumatic stress disorder, Agent Orange, military sexual trauma, hepatitis C, and homelessness that are discussed for these men and women veterans, along with a rationale for their long-term presence,which is still evident today. Other relevant nursing interventions for veterans are suggested such as reminiscing, and art/animal-assisted therapy to supplement their medical care.
Conard, P. L., Armstrong, M. L., Young, C., Lacy, D. and Billings, L., 2016. Person-centered older military veteran care when there are consequences. Nurse Education Today, 47, pp. 61-67.