Steven Stellman - Utilization, attitudes, and experiences of Vietnam Era veterans with Veterans Administration health facilities: the American Legion experience

Document created by Steven Stellman on Dec 1, 2016
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  Stellman, J. M., Stellman, S. D., Sommer, J. F., Jr. 47  (2) 193-209-

  Abstract: A random sample of American Legion   members in six states who had served in the Armed Forces during   the Vietnam Era was conducted through a mailed questionnaire, in   order to determine patterns of usage of Veterans Administration   health facilities, as well as attitudes toward the VA and   experiences at these facilities. Of the 6810 male respondents,   42.0% had served in Southeast Asia. These subjects were   categorized according to their level of combat in South Vietnam.   Thirty-six percent of those who had served in Southeast Asia had   used VA health facilities, compared to only 18% of men who served   elsewhere. Among Southeast Asia veterans, combat level was an   important predictor of extent of usage of VA facilities for   problems of both physical and mental health. Combat level was   also associated with lack of basic and major medical insurance.   While men with lower incomes tended to make greater use of VA   mental health facilities, nearly one-fourth of mental health   users had family incomes above $30,000. Despite their greater   usage of the VA, men with higher combat levels expressed lower   feelings of security about this agency, and rated its staff less   helpful and of lower quality than did men who experienced lower   levels of combat. On the other hand, higher combat veterans   thought themselves better informed about VA services. Men who had   gone to the VA for mental health assistance reported a   disturbingly low frequency of having been asked basic questions   that relate to possible diagnosis of post-traumatic stress   disorder (PTSD), questions related to combat, which may be one of   its etiologic factors, or other questions relating to their   military history. Because combat level in Vietnam veterans is a   major determinant of both attitudes toward and utilization of VA   health facilities, the VA as well as other health agencies which   deal with Vietnam veterans should be especially sensitive to this   factor, and should take it into consideration when evaluating   veterans' physical and mental health.

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