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The relationship between veterans and nurses

A new study led by University of Michigan researchers concludes that nurses are an important part of the survival and recovery of wounded veterans. The same study showed that most vets prefer care by military, rather than civilian nurses, because military nurses better understand the unique challenges of the military life. Military nurses may also be more aware of the realities of a war zone.

Many service members return home with post-traumatic stress syndrome or other mental-health disorders in addition to their physical injuries. Wounded veterans also face the challenge of re-integrating into civilian life. Total nursing care of the wounded vet will include attention to his or her emotional, social and spiritual needs as well.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has partnered with several schools of nursing nationwide to increase the number of nurses and nurse faculty. The program, called the VA Nursing Academy, includes regular clinical rotations through VA hospitals and post-clinical conferences in which veterans talk about their experiences in the service and in recovery. The hope is that the program will increase the sensitivity of student nurses and inspire them to continue their work in VA hospitals.

Another program, a partnership between the Medical College of Georgia and the Charlie Atwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center, is designed to help prepare nursing students who want to care for veterans. The master’s level program gives six clinical nurse leader students each year the chance to hone their skills at Veterans Hospitals. Many of the students ultimately choose to continue their practice with sick or wounded veterans.

What’s the most unique challenge or situation you ever faced while caring for a veteran?

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Jennifer Fink, RN, BSN

Jennifer is a professional freelance writer with over eight years experience as a hospital nurse. She has clinical experience in adult health, including med-surg, geriatrics and transplant; she also has a particular interest in women’s health and cancer care. Jennifer has written a variety of health and parenting articles for national publications.
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