Post-Deployment Needs of Veterans

Carter, Jemica, PhD, RN

Background: Veterans returning from war zones (Iraq and Afghanistan) have unique physical, emotional, and psychological needs. The veterans with physical wounds receive care to heal their wounds, but those with emotional and psychological needs are often overlooked because they present as healthy. Nurses and other healthcare professionals need to be aware of the needs of all veterans to help them return to productive, healthy lives.

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to examine the prevalence of physical and psychological post-deployment needs in veterans receiving care

Methods: A comprehensive review of literature was completed to find refereed literature on the post-deployment needs of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The review also examined the preparation of nurses to care for the unique population of veterans.

Results: The review of literature will provide concrete evidence of the types of needs that returning veterans will present both at VA medical centers and physical offices and clinics. The nurses in these types of settings will need additional training to be prepare to manage the care of the returning veterans.

Conclusion: Given the increase of veterans returning from combat, nurses need to understand post-deployment needs of male and female veterans and preventive strategies to reduce physical and psychological harmful consequences. Early identification of post-deployment stressors, as well as development and implementation of effective interventions can help reduce physical and psychological distress among veterans. The number of male and female veterans who engage in multiple deployments has increased and may lead to growth in the incidence of exposures and health conditions that can result in long-term traumatic, and even, fatal consequences.  

Implications: Nurses have a complete understanding of important post-deployment health issues and receive training on how to deal with these behaviors. Veterans affected by this phenomenon may be at risk for poor physical and mental health outcomes. The paucity of research studies in nursing regarding veterans and post-deployment needs support the need for additional exploration of this topic.