Nurses as Health Advocates
Veterans returning from conflict areas suffer from a host of psychological problems associated with trauma and mental health. These include post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Veterans suffering from these problems are more likely to engage in substance abuse, alcoholism, violent behavior and greater risk of eventually developing dementia. They therefore need psychological treatment and counselling to enable them lead normal lives again. Families are usually stressed due to these difficulties facing their loved ones, and need, together with the veterans, counselling. (Salamon, 2010)
Veterans may also suffer from physical injury or difficulty after serving. Some complain of chronic muscle pain, rare diseases only common in the places they have served, including brucellosis and leishmaniasis, and traumatic brain injury, TBI. As well as needing extended periods of treatment and observation, the families of these soldiers need help on how to cope, and offer support so that the victims may not be stressed and may recover as quickly as possible, or may at least lead reasonably normal lives. (Salamon, 2010)
As a nurse, advocacy can be through the already established forums, such as the National League for Nursing – coordinated effort launched in 2012, that aims to promote better care for nursing and their families., At the same time, nurses can form their own groups within hospitals, counties or even states to advocate for better health care for veterans by enhanced access and specialized attention. (HTN, 2012)
Nurses need to be effective communicators of their course, collaborate with likeminded individuals in the field, use their influence to effect changes in the ways veterans are treated, and be able to solve problems and other issues arising in their line of duty. As they do this, nurses need to be able to educate others of the course they are advocating. They also have a responsibility to share information, be credible and trustworthy, so that they can be influential and be collaborative as they seek to advance veterans’ health welfare. For example, the National League for Nursing sees nursing as being at the forefront of this advocacy, since they are in contact with all the involved parties, but they would not be able to do much in this capacity without being effective communicators and win others over to their passion. (Tomajan, 2012); (HTN, 2012)
HTN. (2012, July 10). National League of Nursing Advocates Vets, Military Families . Retrieved from Healthcare Traveler: http://healthcaretraveler.modernmedicine.com/healthcare-traveler/content/national-league-nursing-advocates-vets-military-families
Salamon, M. (2010, November 11). Health Problems Facing Veterans. Retrieved from Livescience: http://www.livescience.com/8916-battle-7-health-problems-facing-veterans.html
Tomajan, K. (2012). Advocating for Nurses and Nursing. OJIN, Vol. 17, No. 1.