According to Paulson & Krippner (2007), war veterans constitute of a population that has unique needs and experiences, mostly because of combat. Some of the experiences that the soldiers undergo while at war render them traumatized for the rest of their lives. This realization prompts the development of advocacy programs vital in helping them cope with trauma. A large number of veterans receive healthcare under the system of health care dubbed Veterans Health Association (VHA). The Family advocacy program also caters for veterans facing problems connected with post-war trauma. With increase in the number of veterans, the facilities at the aforementioned advocacy programs are limited. Furthermore, veterans from the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq suffer more serious and complex mental and physical problems ranging from combat stress to stress disorders after war trauma. This essay will highlight an advocacy program that will help veterans cope with post-traumatic problems caused by combat.
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How Combat Affects Veterans
In recent years, the long-lasting impacts of military war have become calamitous. In a country like the U.S, cases of suicide in the Army have exceeded the pace of prevention in the general populace with the obvious widespread reason for hospitalization in the Army is psychiatric admission. Although large and significant military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan ended recently, the impacts on the cerebral health of active-duty members, veterans, and reservists are just starting to be felt. Furthermore, the potential impact of the battling experiences on the service members may become evident in the long run and may emerge in the form of psychiatric illnesses. Fear of treatment causes them not to seek medical treatment and this adversely affects the lives veterans (Milstead, 2011).
Paulson & Krippner (2007) further state that untreated depression and PTSD could lead to the affected being involved in drug use, unemployment, marital problems, and committing suicide. According to Schaller, (2012) it is best to see a medical professional if some warning signs begin to occur to a veteran. These warning signs include; lack of sleep, complaints of sleeplessness or other sleeping difficulties. Among the affected are the reservists, veterans, soldiers. All the symptoms necessitate cerebral health screening. Alarming feelings and thoughts exceed duration of more than a month. These are usually severe and the veteran finds a problem in controlling his or her personal life.
Self-medication is also rife among the veterans. The use of alcohol or any other drug as a way of numbing feelings is not recommendable although it appears to be an enticing way for a veteran to manage stress. This can always lead to more complicating problems hence making healing so difficult. Flashbacks may come in the form of offensive dreams about a certain shocking event and avoidance of talking or thinking about the event are as well caution signs of PTSD (Schaller, 2012).
Problems Faced by Veterans
Military action witnessed in the 20th century such as the Cold War, the first and the Second World War, the Vietnam and the Gulf war, are some of the sources of many war veterans. Many men fought, some survived, and are alive to date. Unluckily, the battling experience for most of the veterans caused trauma to them leading to many being diagnosed with PTSD. The aforementioned disorder is incapacitating, which leads to the question whether the disorder has widespread ramification on the life of the affected veteran (Kelly, Barksdale, & Gitelson, 2011).
PSTD refers to emotion that emanates from depression. Stress is a common happenstance among humans and is often caused by a number of factors. When an individual suffers from the predicament, the body responds by releasing chemicals responsible for some form of reaction. However, PSTD refers to stress that comes after encountering upsetting events. These events may be in the form of accidents, military combat, and other unfortunate occurrences during the war. Some of the symptoms of PSTD are lack of interest in normal daily activities, flashbacks, and paranoia. A Vietnam veteran suffering from PTSD stated that he had frequent touching outbursts. This led to the development of a spiteful temper, anxiety, and bad dreams that compelled him to return to combat. The flashbacks experienced by majority of the veterans, are a revelation that PSTD is connected to the nature in which veterans remember the combat happenstance. (Paulson & Krippner, 2007)
Scurfield & Platoni (2013) reveal that for a soldier to suffer from flashbacks of the events that occurred during combat, his/her brain is engaged in chemical release. These chemicals target memory banks with special codes that keep the events entrenched in the mind of the veteran for a long time. However, the veterans are mostly upset by the combat experience. Majorities of the soldiers who go to the combat are in their developmental stages of life. Hence, when they are separated from their homes and brought to a different context, they forget their identity and succumb to radical breaks. This translates to a situation whereby the service man is transformed into a different person. Moreover, a veteran is a different person from who he or she was before the combat. The confusion in life emanates from survival tactics that entails killing other individuals for survival (Scurfield & Platoni, 2013).
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Advocacy Programs for the Veterans
The importance of the advocacy programs emanates from the fact that individual veterans are navigating the health systems because of increased illness. Through advocates, effectiveness has been achieved in improving and protecting healthcare for the younger and older veterans. These veterans suffer from an array of emotional and physical conditions and are compelled to negotiate paths marred with difficulties. The advocacy efforts for the veterans are provided by a number of organizations like agencies for the government and organizations for veteran services. All the aforementioned bodies advocate for the veterans to ensure they get eligible benefits and needed services in the highest quality possible. Timing and efficiency are also catered for to ensure that the veterans do not succumb to trauma. The present advocacy program at the federal level describes activities to help the veterans at the state level. With numerous veteran centers, the advocacy program’s mission is to foster honor to the veterans in America through provision of the best health care that can improve their well-being and health. Moreover, the program also caters for specialty and primary medical care for all the veterans that are eligible. VHA also offers an avalanche of specialized programs providing care and advocacy for special groups of veterans like homeless veterans, female veterans, veterans requiring counseling to readjust to their normal lives and those at risk of committing suicide (Scurfield & Platoni, 2013).
A New Advocacy Program
The new advocacy program for the veterans comes after the realization that in all the healthcare settings, the expectations of the patients are mostly never met. Patients may become upset with the lack of efficacy on the part of the service providers. Hence, in ensuring that the veterans achieve the most effective and convenient treatment, there is the need for the advocacy program that focuses entirely on the veterans and their needs. The advocacy program for the veterans is based entirely on the realization that an organized and consistent approach in handling complaints from the veterans is desirable in meeting the expectations of the veterans. An advocate is available for each veteran with his/her role being to manage the processes through which the veterans register their complaints (Paulson & Krippner, 2007).
. Schaller (2012) mentions that advocacy programs for the veterans exist at all facilities for VHA with each facility having an advocate involved in tracking complaints to make improvements in the delivery of care. The aforementioned advocates engage themselves with patients and their families to resolve recurrent issues and make sure that the veterans are aware of the responsibilities and rights related to care at the facilities. These advocates solicit feedback from the veterans about the process of launching complaints and train the veterans on the use of the process. Moreover, the advocates assist the administrative and the clinical staff in dealing with issues occurring during the services. A veteran may go to the office of the advocate and describe the situation in which he/she may have been treated unfairly. After the advocate apologizes on behalf of the health facility, he/she shares the experience of the veteran with the staff to acquaint them with the effect of behavior and speech in aggravating the situation of the veteran (Schaller, 2012).
As an addition to the existing advocacy programs, advocates have proved passionate regarding the care of veteran in general. Most of the advocates in the new advocacy approach have medical backgrounds that enable them to serve the patients effectively. The advocate reviews their medical backgrounds to ascertain whether the clinical nurse explained the purpose of the tests, and whether the information was provided in a friendly way. Furthermore, the advocates for the patients offer assistance to the patients not satisfied with plans for treatment via arrangement of secondary opinions from a variety of providers (Paulson & Krippner, 2007).
It is apparent that the new advocacy programs under VHA have numerous changes in catering for the veterans recuperating from traumatic effects of combat. This is because they work with the service providers to facilitate resolution of problems that are beyond the capacity of the staff in the medical facility. Helping the veterans assert the right to change the medical providers in case of lack of satisfaction in the care they are being given is an example of the responsibility of the advocates for the patients. In case the advocate notes that veterans are requesting for specific providers, the advocate has the duty of approaching the provider (Paulson & Krippner, 2007).
Kelly, Barksdale, & Gitelson (2011) reveal that advocacy is effective upon a consideration of the best way to provide care to servicemen returning from war. With over a million forces volunteering to fight in a period of close to a decade, trying to integrate into the community and the family has necessitated collaboration between the state, the defense department, health organizations in the community, and other relevant bodies. In recognition of the veteran’s patriotism, the government actively engages with teams for care management at different levels in the locale through referral coordination for healthcare services. In collaboration with several program managers, the development of a new position in the advocacy programs has facilitated efficiency with care teams and program managers maintaining involvement in ensuring that veterans are catered for.
A new program involving the use of transition advocates has emerged to ensure that veterans who are severely injured have advocates who enable them to undergo the whole recuperation process. The advocates help to smoothen the oftentimes rigorous emotional and physical transition process. The new program entails welcoming home troops engaged in war and providing them with a friendly atmosphere to help them avoid post-war trauma. Moreover, the new advocacy program necessitates home visits to veterans while offering transport to vital appointments (Schaller, 2012).
Nevertheless, the healthcare system can be difficult and complex to manage because some of the veterans may be unfamiliar with the new system and hence may struggle with problems emanating from combat trauma like injuries during blasts. Moreover, symptoms such as loss of memory, impairment of cognitive ability, avoiding reminders of trauma, may mitigate the ability to resolve problems, which culminates into withdrawal that ends in social isolation and lack of access to medical care. Combined with readjustment issues such as insomnia, hyperarousal, and hypervigilance, deregulation of anger and frustration are impediments to resolution of problems facing the veterans (Paulson & Krippner, 2007).
The new advocacy program can provide a familiar connection to the medical services and healthcare support for affected veterans. This assists them in their transition to the lives of the civilians. As the number of veterans that are seeking care from this advocacy program is increasing, the facilities are expending efforts to ensure that they meet the challenge of making sure that they receive relevant mental health, physical health, and other health services while meeting the needs of all the veterans. Initiatives for call centers have been established to target special veterans like those discharged from military service but not aware of healthcare services offered to ex-military men. The goal of the program is to disseminate information to the veterans about the services offered under the advocacy program and provide contact information for medical staff incase a need arises (Scurfield & Platoni, 2013).
Advocating for veterans is of great importance and remains the mandate of the VHA. There are various groups that have come together to offer their services to the veterans under the new advocacy approach. These groups provide healthcare material for the veterans and their relatives. They are also offered disease prevention, job, and health promotion services. Because of the emergence of new services, the new veterans may need help to get to know the benefits of the advocacy programs. The increase of health concerns for the veterans prompts deployment of mental health and this is catered for under the new advocacy program. Educational programs for the veterans and their families are also helping them to cope and understand the challenges emanating from post deployment (Kelly, Barksdale, & Gitelson, 2011).
Through advocacy, new treatments for problems afflicting the veterans have been developed, moreover, analysis of psychosocial factors associated with adjusting to the new environment have also been assessed. It is important to note that the mission of the VHA is to meet and advocate for the needs for enrolled veterans. Communication with the organizations that offer services to the veterans is crucial because the family members are involved in the healing process (Scurfield & Platoni, 2013).
In summary, achievements have been made in advocacy programs that cater for the veterans after combat. The realization that war veterans are a population with unique needs and experience has led to development of healthcare programs to address the trauma that they face after combat. A large number of veterans receive healthcare presently under the VHA. New advocacy programs have emerged to take care of the increasing number of veterans. This is because the increase in the number of veterans has limited the facilities provided by previous advocacy programs. The war in Iraq and Afghanistan has produced a large number of veterans who are faced by numerous challenges in trying to cope with the life of a normal civilian. In the light of this, the increasing number of veteran demands increase in quality of the services offered at medical facilities. The failure to attend to this development means that the needs of the veterans will never be met. Patients may become upset in case their expectations are not met. This may result from lack of efficiency in the provision of medical services. Therefore, in ensuring that veterans achieve convenient and effective treatment, advocacy programs are of great importance as they focus on their needs. These programs are based consistent approaches to deal with veterans’ complaints.
Kelly, D., Barksdale, S., & Gitelson, D. (2011). Treating Young Veterans: Promoting Resilience Through Practice and Advocacy. New York: Springer Publishing Company.
Milstead, J. A. (2011). Health Policy and Politics: A Nurse’s Guide. Sudbury: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.
Paulson, D. S., & Krippner, S. (2007). Haunted by Combat: Understanding PTSD in War Veterans Including Women, Reservists, and Those Coming Back from Iraq. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group.
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Schaller, B. R. (2012). Veterans on Trial: The Coming Court Battles over PTSD. Quicksilver: Potomac Books.
Scurfield, R. M., & Platoni, K. T. (2013). Healing War Trauma: A Handbook of Creative Approaches. London: Routledge.