HAVE YOU EVER SERVED IN THE MILITARY?

One question can make a big difference…

CARE FOR THOSE WHO SERVE BY:

  • Building critical rapport with a reluctant patient who served.
  • Understanding the relationship between military experiences and medical symptoms.
  • Collaborating effectively with military-veteran healthcare providers.

WHY ASK THE QUESTION?

Healthcare professionals encounter veterans, service members, and military families, but they don’t always know it. Veterans do not always identify themselves.  They can be proud and stoic, and tend to be more comfortable helping others than asking for help themselves.  They may minimize the effect of military service on their health, which can lead to missed diagnoses and incomplete treatment.   The only way to be sure to find out about their military service – and its relationship to their health – is to ASK!

Providers, when gathering patient history,

ASK THE QUESTION:

Have you or a family member ever served in the military?

WHEN THE ANSWER IS “YES,” you may consider thanking them for their service. You may also then be able to find out more about the service experience that will facilitate appropriate diagnosis, treatment planning, and referrals. Asking further questions will also help you to:

  • Build rapport and demonstrate interest and cultural competency
  • Link to any needed military and veteran resources and referrals, including both VA and non-VA programs
  • Identify any physical, medical and/or mental health issues related to service experience that will need further diagnostic work or treatment, or will impact treatment goals
  • Explore areas of functioning in need of support as well as individual and family strengths, supports, and resources
  • Address perceived barriers to seeking support and services

Read a vignette about how providers in the 
Health Care & Medical Services can make a big difference!

Following are some questions that could be asked in the context of gathering information for more effective referrals and services.  Pay attention to non-verbal cues, and show respect, curiosity, and empathy.  Also be aware that responsiveness and effective follow-up are critical to building trust and rapport.

Download PDF

When did you/your family member serve? What service era? Which Branch?

  • Build rapport and demonstrate interest and cultural competency
  • Link to any needed military and veteran resources and referrals, including both VA and non-VA programs

What was your/your family member’s job while serving?

  • Link to any needed military and veteran resources and referrals, including both VA and non-VA programs
  • Identify any physical, medical and/or mental health issues related to service experience that will need further diagnostic work or treatment, or will impact treatment goals

What is your/your family member’s discharge type/status?

  • Link to any needed military and veteran resources and referrals, including both VA and non-VA programs

In what ways may your healthcare needs be connected to your/your family member’s military service?

  • Link to any needed military and veteran resources and referrals, including both VA and non-VA programs
  • Identify any physical, medical and/or mental health issues related to service experience that will need further diagnostic work or treatment, or will impact treatment goals

Did you/your family member experience deployment?

  • Link to any needed military and veteran resources and referrals, including both VA and non-VA programs
  • Identify any physical, medical and/or mental health issues related to service experience that will need further diagnostic work or treatment, or will impact treatment goals
  • Explore areas of functioning in need of support as well as individual and family strengths, supports, and resources

If Yes, where did you/your family member deploy?

  • Link to any needed military and veteran resources and referrals, including both VA and non-VA programs
  • Identify any physical, medical and/or mental health issues related to service experience that will need further diagnostic work or treatment, or will impact treatment goals
  • Explore areas of functioning in need of support as well as individual and family strengths, supports, and resources

If yes, did you/your family member experience enemy fire or witness casualties?*

  • Link to any needed military and veteran resources and referrals, including both VA and non-VA programs
  • Identify any physical, medical and/or mental health issues related to service experience that will need further diagnostic work or treatment, or will impact treatment goals
  • Explore areas of functioning in need of support as well as individual and family strengths, supports, and resources

Did you/your family member lose a close friend in combat?*

  • Identify any physical, medical and/or mental health issues related to service experience that will need further diagnostic work or treatment, or will impact treatment goals
  • Explore areas of functioning in need of support as well as individual and family strengths, supports, and resources

Were you/your family member wounded, injured, hospitalized, or do you/your family member have any other physical problems related to military service?*

  • Identify any physical, medical and/or mental health issues related to service experience that will need further diagnostic work or treatment, or will impact treatment goals
  • Explore areas of functioning in need of support as well as individual and family strengths, supports, and resources

Do you/your family member have a service-connected disability or condition?

  • Link to any needed military and veteran resources and referrals, including both VA and non-VA programs
  • Identify any physical, medical and/or mental health issues related to service experience that will need further diagnostic work or treatment, or will impact treatment goals
  • Explore areas of functioning in need of support as well as individual and family strengths, supports, and resources

Were you/your family member exposed to excessive noise, chemicals/gases/pesticides, explosions, or other hazardous substances?*

  • Link to any needed military and veteran resources and referrals, including both VA and non-VA programs
  • Identify any physical, medical and/or mental health issues related to service experience that will need further diagnostic work or treatment, or will impact treatment goals
  • Explore areas of functioning in need of support as well as individual and family strengths, supports, and resources

Have you/your family member ever experienced Military Sexual Trauma?*

  • Link to any needed military and veteran resources and referrals, including both VA and non-VA programs
  • Identify any physical, medical and/or mental health issues related to service experience that will need further diagnostic work or treatment, or will impact treatment goals
  • Explore areas of functioning in need of support as well as individual and family strengths, supports, and resources

Have you/your family member ever experienced problems with anxiety/depression/anger management/substance use?*

  • Link to any needed military and veteran resources and referrals, including both VA and non-VA programs
  • Identify any physical, medical and/or mental health issues related to service experience that will need further diagnostic work or treatment, or will impact treatment goals
  • Explore areas of functioning in need of support as well as individual and family strengths, supports, and resources

Have you/your family member ever had thoughts of killing yourself or harming others?

  • Link to any needed military and veteran resources and referrals, including both VA and non-VA programs
  • Identify any physical, medical and/or mental health issues related to service experience that will need further diagnostic work or treatment, or will impact treatment goals
  • Explore areas of functioning in need of support as well as individual and family strengths, supports, and resources

Are you/your family member enrolled/connected to the VA or other veteran resources or organizations for support and services?

  • Link to any needed military and veteran resources and referrals, including both VA and non-VA programs
  • Explore areas of functioning in need of support as well as individual and family strengths, supports, and resources

What needs for support do you have that are not yet met?

  • Link to any needed military and veteran resources and referrals, including both VA and non-VA programs
  • Explore areas of functioning in need of support as well as individual and family strengths, supports, and resources

What reservations did you/your family member have about coming in to seek assistance? Is there anything that might be a barrier to further seeking assistance?

  • Explore areas of functioning in need of support as well as individual and family strengths, supports, and resources

* If yes, see Clinical Screening Tool.