The stress of war and military life can lead to a variety of harmful medical conditions that sometimes go undiagnosed. New guidelines from the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) say that medical professionals need to focus on asking veterans the right questions
The push by the AANP is part of the organization's role in the Joining Forces initiative, which was started by first lady Michelle Obama. AANP officials say it's important for general physicians, not only those employed at VA hospitals, to ask questions covering topics from their patient's military service to whether they have been experiencing nightmares or feelings of isolation.
"Many veterans choose to see health providers in their own communities rather than at VA centers where personnel are specially trained to recognize issues associated with military service," said Angela Golden, president of the AANP. "As primary health care providers, nurse practitioners are committed to doing everything we can to help these heroes."
Being more vigilant about picking up on subtle symptoms of conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) can help get troops the treatment they need. While there are no hard statistics, some experts estimate that 20 percent of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan have PTSD or TBI.