By Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief
I’m always humbled when I speak with veterans or families of veterans. The commitment to duty of the military and the sacrifices their families make—long periods of being single parents; nerve-racking times wondering after the well-being of a spouse or child; missed birthdays, graduations, and milestones—never cease to amaze me.
Last October, nurse Linda Schwartz, at the time commissioner of Veterans Affairs for Connecticut, spoke at the American Academy of Nursing (AAN) meeting about the health needs of veterans.
As we pointed out in a blog post about the meeting, she emphasized “the importance of knowing whether a patient has a military service history because many health issues may be service associated. For example, toxic effects from depleted uranium and heavy metals such as those found in ordinance or from exposure to agents like Agent Orange may not manifest themselves for years.”
The AAN also launched the initiative “Have You Ever Served in the Military?” to encourage all nurses to ask patients about their military history. (You can get resource materials at the link above.) Now, one year later, Schwartz is the assistant secretary for policy and planning at Veterans Affairs, and the initiative has been endorsed by the National Association of State Directors of Veteran Affairs.
We highlighted veterans’ health in the July 2013 issue with an editorial (“To Be Young, Female, and at War”) and a CE feature (“Enhancing Veteran-Centered Care: A Guide for Nurses in Non-VA Settings”). We also published a feature article called “Caring for Families with Deployment Stress” in November 2010. Editorials are alway free; the two feature articles are free on AJNonline.com for the rest of November.
And to all who serve or have served, our thanks to you and your families.