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Veterans Have Unique Health Needs—But It's Important Not to Stereotype

November 18, 2019
Veteran's Health Care

Statistics show that veterans returning home from combat have a higher risk for mental health issues than people who have not served. But the fact is that not all veterans have identical health needs.

This month Baystate Health is preparing healthcare providers to better serve veterans and their families by training both medical students and practicing medical professionals—increasing their awareness of, and skills to intervene with, health issues experienced by vets.

First Response for Veterans: Continuing Education Course

This half-day continuing education symposium provided insights specific to military veterans—post-traumatic stress disorder, post-military service adjustments, and suicide prevention.

Veterans and speakers from community outreach programs, the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs, law enforcement, and faculty from Harvard Medical School described post-deployment issues, the link between battlefield exposures and health outcomes, and how "battle mind" attributes that are beneficial in combat may manifest when returning to civilian life.

They also discussed crisis intervention—how to identify a veteran in crisis, de-escalation techniques, and accessing resources in a crisis situation.

Building the Doctor-Patient Relationship with Veterans: Medical Student Curriculum

Veterans from the community met over lunch with small groups of medical students in the PURCH track to discuss the impact of military service on their physical and mental health and their experiences with the civilian healthcare system.

Med students were cautioned about the stereotype that all veterans are damaged and suffering from PTSD.

They were challenged to examine their assumptions about vets, such as that they enter the military to get an education, or because service is a family tradition.