Many oncology nurses outside of the VA system are caring for veterans. According to the US Census Bureau, an estimated 23.6 million veterans are alive today. They also make up one-fourth (650,000 per year) of all deaths ó- reflecting the aging of the Greatest Generation that served during World War II, now in their late 80s and beyond, and many Vietnam and Korean War veterans reaching advanced age. One in four dying Americans is a veteran.
The Department of Veterans Affairs Hospice and Palliative Care Initiative (VAHPC) wants healthcare workers to increase their sensitivity to the concerns of veterans facing serious illness. Many veterans retain memories and scars from their past military service and combat experiences that resurface near the end of their lives. Some may be dealing with fears, flashbacks, guilt, or other unresolved issues.
The first step is to find out if your patient is a veteran. Once you know s/he is a veteran, the following four questions (taken from the 2012 Military Health History Pocket Card developed by US Department of Veteran Affairs) can be included in your assessment to find out more information.
"Tell me about your military experience."
"When and where do you/did you serve?"
"What do you/did you do while in the service?"
"How has military service affected you?"
Once you know if your patient is a veteran, The National Hospice and Palliative Organization (NHPCO) provides guidance through their We Honor Veterans program in how we can improve support.
We Honor Veterans suggestions for healthcare professionals:
Give Veterans an opportunity to tell their stories.
Respect Veterans' service, their feelings, and any suggestions they might offer
Thank Veterans for their service to our country
Show appreciation for the families of Veterans
Always be sincere, caring, compassionate, and ready and able to listen to what a Veteran -- or his or her family member -- has to share about the situation they are dealing with
Be supportive and non-judgmental, and always validate their feelings and concerns
Be honest, sincere, caring, and respectful
Accept, without judgment, the Veteran as s/he is
It might take longer for some Veterans to trust you. Be patient and listen.
Expect the Veteran's sharing to occur over a period of time
For many of our patients, their war experiences were defining points of their lives. I have an uncle who is 89 and WWII veteran. He has a map hanging in his kitchen of the South Pacific with the site marked where his plane was shot down in 1944. Those memories are a huge part of his life, just as they are for many of our patients. Asking about military service demonstrates our respect for what they did for all of us.
The 2013 Nurse Compensation Survey Results Are In Michelle Bragazzi, BS, RN, 5/3/2013 32 In February, TheONC surveyed more than 600 oncology nurses to find out more about their careers. We wanted to know if they felt adequately compensated and satisfied within their ...
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