About half of military veterans see healthcare providers outside the Veteran's Administration (VA) healthcare system. While the VA treats the unique healthcare needs of veterans, healthcare providers outside of the VA may not have that level of experience. Still, they should know about your service to our country.
Veterans may have different healthcare situations than those who have not served in the military. Over the last decade, different medical professions have begun to ask patients if they have served in the military, and this is a step in the right direction. When healthcare providers know they are taking care of a veteran, it can provide clues to what that patient's care may look like.
If you are a veteran and your primary care provider does not ask about your military service, you should offer that information to them. For example, a cough or back pain may be perceived as minor when presented by a patient who has not served in the military, but a military veteran may be experiencing Gulf War Syndrome, which has its own established care protocols.
Just being a veteran is not an indication of a medical condition. Many veterans return from service without any medical problems. However, medical issues are not always visible and are not only limited to the veteran. Military veterans are more likely to have experienced traumatic situations, which can have a lasting impact. Also, prolonged, and repeated deployments may affect both the veteran and their loved ones.
Mount Nittany Health encourages veterans to schedule annual check-ups with their healthcare providers. During your visit, be prepared to disclose your veteran status. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions of your provider and tell them what you want to get done at that visit. For example, you may be experiencing back pain, headaches or are not tolerating medicine well. Let them know this at the beginning of your visit before you forget.
If you have any concerns about your health, even if you are not experiencing symptoms, it's good to let your healthcare provider know about them. Your healthcare provider is your advocate, and they are there to help. If you are drinking too much, having sexual problems, or having trouble controlling your bladder, it is ok to tell them. They have seen it and can work with you to find a solution.
While most healthcare providers are good at explaining things in layperson terms, you might not always understand what they say. When this happens, ask for a more straightforward explanation. They may even draw a picture or have additional materials to share with you to help you understand. You can also ask them to write down things they want you to remember.
Mount Nittany Health thanks all of the veterans in our community for their service. We want you to know that you have a caring home at Mount Nittany Health for your unique healthcare needs.
Mount Nittany Health recommends regular health exams with your medical provider and screening tests to find issues before they start when your chances for treatment and cure are better. By getting the right health services, screenings and treatments, you are taking steps that help your chances of living a longer, healthier life.