NURS 6050C: Policy and Advocacy for Improving Population Health
Main Question Post. The military serves to protect the American public, yet many military personnel are unable to receive the medical care one has earned due to a flawed veteran’s health administration (VHA) program. In fact, Deyton, Hess, and Jackonis state in an article a veteran is “more likely to be homeless and to lack health insurance or to be underinsured” (p. 678). Placing one’s life on the line and not having the simple favor of having one’s health attended to is a shame. As of September 30, 2017, 1,525,400 of America’s 19,998,799 veterans resided in the state of Florida (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 2017) with only nine inpatient medical centers; the nearest medical center from this student’s location is in Gainesville, approximately a four-hour drive one way (U.S Department of Veterans Affairs, 2017). Florida veterans have limited access to inpatient care. The veteran and the veteran’s family must travel long distances to receive inpatient care services.
Many veteran’s have sustained some form of emotional trauma while serving in the military. The stigma of a mental health disorder continues to occur today despite the medical community’s best efforts to educate the public on mental health issues as a disease process like any other that deserves treatment. However, the state of Florida currently has seven outpatient programs for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – all seven are in the south Florida area meaning a six to seven-hour drive for a veteran residing in my area (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 2018). While headway has been made by the administration to address PTSD by requiring that all veterans are screened (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, n.d.), much more efforts are needed to make receiving treatment more convenient for the veteran and family members.
The nurse is often the first and last line of defense for the most vulnerable patient. The VHA nurse must be an advocate by first acting as a navigator to assist the patient in finding needed resources within the system. The VHA nurse who realizes that geographic distance is presenting a challenge should make note of each time a patient cannot or does not attend needed treatments due to geographic barriers. The statistics could then be incorporated into a report to present to government officials. Facts regarding veterans suffering from PTSD unable to effectively hold down a full-time job after disenrolling from the military could also be part of this report – lost productivity, loss of taxes collected, and support required from the government to subsidize lost wages would be a large factor to consider when advocating for treatment facilities to be placed closer to northwest Florida. The VHA nurse could be the voice for the vulnerable veteran and his or her family.
Deyton, L., Hess, W. J., & Jackonis, M. J. (2008, Winter). War, its aftermath, and U.S. health policy: Toward a comprehensive health program for America’s military personnel, veterans, and their families. Journal of Law, Medicine, & Ethics, 36(4), 677–689.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2017, October 3). National center for veterans analysis and statistics Florida. Retrieved from https://www.va.gov/vetdata/docs/SpecialReports/State_Summaries_Florida.pdf
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2018, October 12). VA benefits and healthcare location Florida PTSD program. Retrieved fromhttps://www.va.gov/directory/guide/state_PTSD.cfm?STATE=FL
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (n.d.). Veterans posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Retrieved from https://www.va.gov/opa/issues/ptsd.asp
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