An Effective Health Advocate as a Nurse for Veterans and Their Families

AnEffective Health Advocate as a Nurse for Veterans and Their Families

Althoughthe United States has several health programs targeting variousAmerican populations, returning war veterans and their family memberscontinue to be neglected. Many of these people are not able to accessand benefit from the health programs meant for them. This situationhas prompted The Patient Advocacy Program, Military OfficersAssociation of America (MOAA) and other organizations to advocate foran improvement in the healthcare services provided to the militarymen and women and their families.

Thispaper examines how a nurse can serve as an effective health advocatefor veterans and their families.

Typesof Health Needs for Veterans and Their Families

Returningveterans and their families have various types of health needs. Tobegin with, most veterans tend to have physical health needs(Tomajan, 2012). This is mainly due to the injuries they sustain inthe field of war. Veterans often exhibit mental health needs(Tomajan, 2012). They might have post traumatic stress disorders(PTSD), depression, stress and other mental illnesses. Some veteransdisplay social health needs (Tomajan, 2012). They get secluded fromtheir respective family units. On their part, the families ofreturning veterans also exhibit both physical and mental health needs(Deyton, Hess &amp Jackonis, 2008). This may be due to the lack ofhealth insurance coverage. The families as well show social healthneeds (Deyton, Hess &amp Jackonis, 2008). They find it difficult toconnect well with their loved ones who have returned from war.

Howto Advocate for the Needs of the Above Population

Aftermanaging to survive in hostile war environments, veterans and theirfamilies need to be helped in order for them to lead a healthy life.Nurses need to play an active role in advocating for the needs ofthese people. The best way through which a nurse can help warveterans and their family members is by helping them to accessquality healthcare services and health care information (Begley,2010). This can lead to the achievement of positive health outcomes.The nurse should also try to empower the veterans and their familiesin order for them to be able to help themselves (Tomajan, 2012). Heor she should try to build on their strengths.

Typesof Advocacy Skills That a Nurse Would Need and How to Develop Them

Aneffective nurse requires various advocacy skills in order for him orher to provide meaningful help to veterans and their families. Tobegin with, the nurse should have good negotiation skills (Deyton,Hess &amp Jackonis, 2008). This particular skill can be developedthrough the process of interest-based negotiation. The nurse shouldexhibit good problem-solving skills (Lanier, 2013). This skill can bedeveloped by coming up with an action plan which is able to meet theset advocacy goals. The nurse should also be in possession ofexcellent influencing skills (Lanier, 2013). He or she should be ableto influence decisions through their messages.

ResponsibilityThat the Nurse Has to be an Advocate

Asa health advocate, the nurse has various responsibilities. To startwith, the nurse is required to safeguard the rights of patients andtheir families (Lanier, 2013). For example, he or she has to ensurethat veterans and their respective families get adequate healthinsurance cover. The nurse has the responsibility of gettingcommitted to the provision of healthcare services (Begley, 2010). Forexample, he or she should ensure that veterans and their familymembers get patient-centered and quality healthcare services. It isalso the responsibility of the nurse to make effective healthcaredecisions. For example, he or she can go through the health recordsof a veteran and make a suggestion of the necessary treatmentdecisions.

Reflectionon the Qualities of a Good Nurse both in the Past and Present

TheCode of Ethics for Nurses of the American Nurses Associationidentifies advocacy as one of the main qualities of a good nurse. Anyeffective nursing advocacy should be compatible with theneo-Aristotelian virtue ethics. As a health advocate for war veteransand their respective families, the nurse needs to have goodpractical, intellectual, moral, and dispositional skills (Begley2010). Personally, I am somebody who is a good negotiator. I am ableto influence various treatment decisions. Although my interpersonalskills are not excellent, I strongly believe that I can achieve thisby developing an effective working relationship with the peoplearound me. I intend to collaborate with the healthcare policy makersand healthcare professionals in order to ensure that we put in placean effective healthcare system which can help to meet the needs ofveterans and their families.


Healthcareadvocacy is one of the most important roles of nurses. Nurses havethe responsibility of ensuring that veterans and their families getthe necessary healthcare services that can help to meet their healthneeds. Therefore, there is need to incorporate nurses in the processof formulating veteran healthcare policies and programs. This canhelp to ensure that positive health outcomes are achieved.


Begley,A. (2010). On being a good nurse: Reflections on the past andpreparing for the future. InternationalJournal of Nursing Practice, 16 (6):525–532.

Deyton,L., Hess, W. J. &amp Jackonis, M. J. (2008). War, its aftermath, andU.S. health policy: Toward a comprehensive health program forAmerica’s military personnel, veterans, and their families. Journalof Law, Medicine, &amp Ethics, 36 (4):677-689.

Lanier,J. K. (2013). Government Response: Legislation. In Milstead, J. A.(2013). Healthpolicy and politics: A nurse`s guide. Burlington,MA: Jones &amp Bartlett Learning.

Tomajan,K. (2012). “Advocating for Nurses and Nursing.” OJIN:The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 17(1).