Active military service members and retired veterans have given their allegiance and sometimes their lives to preserve our nation’s safety and security. Their contributions to the protection of our country come at great cost to their lives and the lives of their families. Nurses are an integral part of the medical team saving lives of military personnel both in the trenches of combat, within community hospitals and clinics.
At each point of delivery of care nurses are prepared to meet the needs of military service men and women. “ Of the 837,000 service members deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan who left military service as of November 2007, nearly 40% have sought health care from the VA”. This large populations attempt to seek the care they need goes unmet by the Military Health System (MHS) and the VA health system due impart to lack of healthcare resources and funding.
A health care issue military service men and women face is access to primary health care insurance coverage for their injuries sustained during combat and for their families. Another health issue identified is treatment for traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The Nurse Advocate Nurses are trained to be advocates for their patients. Advocacy is an inherent trait of nurses.
As a nurse advocate for military personnel returning from combat I would need to be educated to handle the needs of patients with traumatic brain injury and PTSD. I should act autonomously to breakdown the barriers to access of heath care for these patients to ensure quality of care, defend patients rights and serve as a liaison between the patient and the health care system particularly when a patients self advocacy is impaired as in those patients with PTSD and TBI.
Nurse Responsibilities Nurse responsibilities in the advocacy of patients returning from combat would include downstream, midstream, and upstream interventions as discussed by Kovner and Knickman, (2011). Downstream interventions for patients with TBI and PTSD would be individualized. Patients and their families should be referred to support groups where education is provided and counselors made available to tailor treatment in a family centered approach.
Midstream interventions include community programs offering workshops to incorporate these patients back into society based on their capabilities. An upstream intervention currently in development is an effort being coordinated by First Lady Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden, and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). This group is pledging advocacy to American veterans and military families to provide education to nurses and nursing students on providing care specific to the needs of this population