1. Harrigan, Pamela N. BSN, RN

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As a veteran and a nurse, "Primary Care Providers and Screening for Military Service and PTSD" (November 2017) covered a subject that is dear to me. I am enrolled in the Veterans Administration health care system and also maintain a private provider. The article addressed a key concern of most veterans: providers' lack of education on veterans' health-while singling out providers' failure to assess for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is just one of the many mental health issues that veterans deal with in addition to substance abuse, traumatic brain injuries, and depression. According to Olenick and colleagues, "medical records of veterans reveal 'that one in three patients was diagnosed with at least one mental health disorder-41% were diagnosed with either a mental health or a behavioral adjustment disorder.'"1


There are currently 20 million U.S. veterans, according to the National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics.2 The adequate care of veterans is not only a private sector issue but a nursing and nursing leadership issue. Nurses are at the forefront of care and are likely to screen veterans prior to their being seen by a provider. I agree with the authors that "primary care providers are on the front lines in the early identification and treatment of veterans' physical and mental health concerns. It is the provider's responsibility to take action and improve screening practices." PTSD and veteran-specific mental health issues are patient safety and public health concerns. Embedded education in health care organizations and continued assessment by nurse leaders to ensure that mental health and military service screenings are being conducted should be the standard. Thank you for publishing this article, which sheds light on an impactful issue.


Pamela N. Harrigan, BSN, RN


El Paso, TX




1. Olenick M, et al US veterans and their unique issues: enhancing health care professional awareness Adv Med Educ Pract 2015 6 635-9 [Context Link]


2. U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics. Veteran population projections 2017-2037. Washington, DC 2016.[Context Link]