Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) military mental health issues. Information on the wars' signature wounds: posttraumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury

Diane Wieland, Melodee Hursey, Deborah Delgado
Pennsylvania Nurse 2010, 65 (3): 4-11; quiz 12-3
This topic can be related to the nursing profession and the need to be better educated on military mental health. Since mood disorder, suicide, alcohol abuse, PTSD and TBI are evident in actively serving and returning service members, it is imperative to educate nurses and healthcare providers about these conditions, the available evidence-based treatments and referrals to programs for these signature OEF/OIF wounds. The authors encourage nurse educators to consider ways to include military mental health and other service-related health issues into nursing curricula and to use Veterans Administration and veterans-related healthcare facilities for clinical courses. As the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq continue into the foreseeable future, many veterans will be seen not only in VA facilities, but they will self-refer to academic and community hospitals, and psychiatric and rehabilitation centers. It is important for all nurses to be aware of the effects of PTSD, depression, suicide, substance abuse and TBI on our patients and to be effective advocates for quality care of veterans in all settings. Nurses need to advocate for screening and provision of mental health services in primary care settings. When such services are offered in primary care settings, it normalizes the care and the service member will more likely allow themselves to receive the care (Jones, 2004). All nurses must understand the price of war experienced by U.S. service members and their families, and in particular, the invisible wounds of war.

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