a law so that as of November 5, 2014, veterans with VA
benefits are able to use a new "Veterans Choice Card" to
receive those hard-earned rewards from civilian providers
under a number of different circumstances--if they live 40
or more miles away from a VA center that offers the ser-
vices needed or if they would have to wait more than 30
days for an appointment, for example.
treat them more effectively. Parks suggests asking patients
directly whether they have served in the military. If they say
yes, probe a little further: "Tell me a little bit about that.
Where have you been? How long did you serve?" Learning
about a patient's military service at the beginning of your
physician-patient relationship can help save time and guess-
work throughout the treatment process, he says.
ly exhaustive list of things to ask for a history and
physical. Among those questions, one we are not
taught to ask is about service in the military. I
would be a standard part of the social history," Parks says.
"Ninety percent of the time, the answer is no, and the ques-
tion takes less than five seconds. But for about 4.8 percent
of New Jersey residents, the answer can give insight into the
patient and the patient history."
for providing culturally competent, patient-centered care to
veterans and military service personnel:
"What are some of the risks you were exposed to, and how did
you respond to that? Was there anything you were exposed to
that you are worried about today?" Dr. Like explains.
include a discussion of an individual's strengths and
resilience, as well as the opportunities and positives experi-
enced as a result of their military service."
then get to the issues and find help. "It is a way of being wel-
coming, receptive to sharing concerns, and empathizing," she
adds. "We have to walk in their boots--to be as empathetic
as we can, without having been on the battlefield."
legitimization for what the veterans are feeling and experi-
encing, agrees Evelyn L. Lewis, MD, MA, FAAFP, chief
medical officer of the Steptoe Group, vice president of the
American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation, and
center) with Steptoe Group team members (left to right) Linda Harris,
lead facilitator; Ron Koshes, MD, lead facility/subject matter expert;
Ronald J. Steptoe, CMR, chair, and CEO; Evelyn L. Lewis, MD, MA,
chief medical officer; and Robert C. Like, MD, MS.