WHY ASK THE QUESTION?

Service providers who specialize in women’s services, crisis support, and domestic violence encounter many service members, veterans, and military families, but they might not know it. Veterans do not always identify themselves, nor do their spouses and loved ones.  They can be proud and stoic, and tend to be more comfortable helping others than asking for help themselves – even when they need it.  Combat traumas, Military Sexual Trauma (MST), and reintegrating after a military deployment can impact family relationships, anger management, and safety.  Appropriate service provision and coordination depends on understanding a client’s history and the various challenges, opportunities, and services available to them. The way to ensure service members, veterans, and their families get the best possible services is to ASK!  

As part of the initial Intake with a new client, ASK THE QUESTION:  “Have you, or a family member, ever served in the military?”

…and if the answer is “YES” and depending on the situation, you might then say “thank you for your service.”  This should always be delivered with sincerity and good eye contact, and only if you feel the individual would receive this positively.

WHEN THE ANSWER IS YES…..

Once you have identified a military-veteran client, you will then be able to increase your understanding of their challenges and better assist them in safely accessing the resources and services they need.  Asking further questions about military service will also help you:

  1. To build rapport and demonstrate interest and cultural competency
  2. To identify, help determine eligibility for, and refer to military/veteran resources and referrals, regardless of discharge status or combat history
  3. To identify key past and present service-related stressors
  4. To identify any broader areas of family functioning in need of support
  5. To identify individual and family strengths, supports, and resources
  6. To identify perceived barriers to seeking support/services and address/resolve any impediments to help-seeking
  7. If engaging in clinical counseling, to initially identify mental health concerns that will eventually need further diagnostic and treatment work and will impact treatment planning and goals
  8. To explore sources of income and financial stability

Read a vignette about how Women’s Services
& Crisis Centers providers can make a big difference!

The following is not intended to be a comprehensive list of all questions to be asked, nor as questions to always be asked for every service member, veteran, or military family member. Rather it is to serve as a guide, and in the context of gathering information about military service history that will impact referrals and services. When you ask the following questions, listen for themes that can help you determine the impact military service has had on the child and his family.  Ask open-ended questions, pay attention to non-verbal cues, and show respect, curiosity, and empathy.

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

  1. To build rapport and demonstrate interest and cultural competency
  2. To identify, help determine eligibility for, and refer to military/veteran resources and referrals, regardless of discharge status or combat history

In what ways may the services/ support that you’re here for today be connected to your/your family member’s military service?

  1. To identify, help determine eligibility for, and refer to military/veteran resources and referrals, regardless of discharge status or combat history
  2. To identify key past and present service-related stressors
  3. To identify any broader areas of family functioning in need of support

Are you experiencing any issues/stressors related to employment or financial needs?

  1. To explore sources of income and financial stability

Did you/your family member deploy?

  1. To identify, help determine eligibility for, and refer to military/veteran resources and referrals, regardless of discharge status or combat history
  2. To identify key past and present service-related stressors

Have you/your family member had a recent deployment and/or are you/your family member facing a deployment?

  1. To identify, help determine eligibility for, and refer to military/veteran resources and referrals, regardless of discharge status or combat history
  2. To identify key past and present service-related stressors
  3. To identify any broader areas of family functioning in need of support

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

  1. To identify key past and present service-related stressors
  2. To identify any broader areas of family functioning in need of support

Are you/your family member connected to any other behavioral health, spiritual or social support resources in the community? If Yes, do you/your family member use them?

  1. To identify any broader areas of family functioning in need of support
  2. To identify individual and family strengths, supports, and resources

What types of support are needed but not yet met?

  1. To identify individual and family strengths, supports, and resources
  2. To identify any broader areas of family functioning in need of support

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?

  1. To identify perceived barriers to seeking support/services and address/resolve any impediments to help-seeking

Where Clinical Counseling is involved…

…see the following questions

What did you/your family member do while serving?

  1. To identify, help determine eligibility for, and refer to military/veteran resources and referrals, regardless of discharge status or combat history
  2. To identify key past and present service-related stressors

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

  1. To identify, help determine eligibility for, and refer to military/veteran resources and referrals, regardless of discharge status or combat history
  2. To identify key past and present service-related stressors

If deployment history, was the deployment combat-related?

  1. To identify, help determine eligibility for, and refer to military/veteran resources and referrals, regardless of discharge status or combat history
  2. To identify key past and present service-related stressors
  3. If engaging in clinical counseling, to initially identify mental health concerns that will eventually need further diagnostic and treatment work and will impact treatment planning and goal

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

  1. To identify key past and present service-related stressors
  2. If engaging in clinical counseling, to initially identify mental health concerns that will eventually need further diagnostic and treatment work and will impact treatment planning and goals

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

  1. To identify key past and present service-related stressors
  2. If engaging in clinical counseling, to initially identify mental health concerns that will eventually need further diagnostic and treatment work and will impact treatment planning and goals

Were you/your family member wounded, injured, or hospitalized?

  1. To identify, help determine eligibility for, and refer to military/veteran resources and referrals, regardless of discharge status or combat history
  2. To identify key past and present service-related stressors
  3. If engaging in clinical counseling, to initially identify mental health concerns that will eventually need further diagnostic and treatment work and will impact treatment planning and goal
  4. To identify any broader areas of family functioning in need of support

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

  1. To identify, help determine eligibility for, and refer to military/veteran resources and referrals, regardless of discharge status or combat history
  2. To identify key past and present service-related stressors

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

  1. To identify, help determine eligibility for, and refer to military/veteran resources and referrals, regardless of discharge status or combat history
  2. To identify key past and present service-related stressors
  3. If engaging in clinical counseling, to initially identify mental health concerns that will eventually need further diagnostic and treatment work and will impact treatment planning and goal

Have you/your family member been diagnosed with or do you/your family member see yourself/him- or herself as experiencing PTS (Post-Traumatic Stress) or TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury)?*

  1. To identify, help determine eligibility for, and refer to military/veteran resources and referrals, regardless of discharge status or combat history
  2. To identify key past and present service-related stressors
  3. If engaging in clinical counseling, to initially identify mental health concerns that will eventually need further diagnostic and treatment work and will impact treatment planning and goal

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

  1. To identify, help determine eligibility for, and refer to military/veteran resources and referrals, regardless of discharge status or combat history
  2. To identify key past and present service-related stressors
  3. If engaging in clinical counseling, to initially identify mental health concerns that will eventually need further diagnostic and treatment work and will impact treatment planning and goal

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

  1. To identify, help determine eligibility for, and refer to military/veteran resources and referrals, regardless of discharge status or combat history
  2. To identify key past and present service-related stressors
  3. If engaging in clinical counseling, to initially identify mental health concerns that will eventually need further diagnostic and treatment work and will impact treatment planning and goal

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

  1. To identify, help determine eligibility for, and refer to military/veteran resources and referrals, regardless of discharge status or combat history
  2. To identify key past and present service-related stressors
  3. If engaging in clinical counseling, to initially identify mental health concerns that will eventually need further diagnostic and treatment work and will impact treatment planning and goal

* If yes, see Clinical Screening Tool.