American Psychiatric Nurses Association Proud to Support the Wellness of US Service Members, Veterans, and their Families through Education and Resources for Nurses

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The American Psychiatric Nurses Association highlights key resources and education for nurses in supporting military populations as a part of the Joining Forces Wellness Week initiative.

Because we are the largest segment of the health care workforce, nurses have numerous opportunities to make a positive impact on the long-term wellness of hundreds of thousands of Service Members, Veterans, and their families.

Each year, APNA and other health care organizations highlight training opportunities and educational offerings which focus on military populations in honor of Joining Forces Wellness Week. Joining Forces is First Lady Michelle Obama’s national initiative which aims to ensure that service members, veterans, and their families receive needed support and treatment as they reconnect with their communities, particularly when it comes to employment, education, and wellness. This year, APNA is proud to highlight several initiatives which speak to current mental health care needs of military populations, including military psychiatry, opioid use disorders, suicide prevention, post-traumatic stress disorder, and traumatic brain injury.

“Because we are the largest segment of the health care workforce, nurses have numerous opportunities to make a positive impact on the long-term wellness of hundreds of thousands of Service Members, Veterans, and their families,” says APNA President Kris A. McLoughlin, DNP, APRN, PMH-CNS, BC, CADC-II, FAAN. “An understanding of their unique mental health needs is vitally important. I encourage nurses from across settings to expand their understanding by taking advantage of APNA’s educational opportunities and resources.”

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), while approximately half of returning service members who need mental health treatment seek it, only just above 50% of them receive adequate care. (1) America’s nurses are trusted partners in providing lifesaving and life-sustaining care in nearly every community and every setting where health care is delivered. Psychiatric-mental health nurses in particular are uniquely equipped to provide holistic care to persons with mental health and/or substance use needs. With an understanding of the culture and behavioral health needs of service members, veterans, and their families, nurses can help ensure that those who need mental health and/or substance use disorder treatment seek it, and that when they do, the care they receive is effective.

The American Psychiatric Nurses Association is offering education and resources to help nurses understand the following mental health needs of those who have served in the Military and their families:

Unique Aspects of Military Mental Health
In the podcast, Military Psychiatry: Practice and Pitfalls for Civilian Providers, presenter Joseph Holshoe, MSN, PMHNP-BC uses his experience as a Navy officer and now US Public Health service officer to describe the unique aspects of military medicine. This session provides nurses with basic understanding of military medicine and the unique mental health needs of the military population. For example, medications and diagnoses that can prevent enlistment or deployment to how common psychiatric diagnoses such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) present in military populations. This online continuing nursing education podcast is available for free November 7-11 in honor of Joining Forces Wellness week.

Prevalence of Opioid Use Disorders
Combat-related injuries and physical strains associated with deployment mean that chronic pain and opioid use are prevalent amongst military service members. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, abuse of prescription drugs is higher among service members than civilians, and most of the prescription drugs misused by service members are opioids. (2) Three free webinars from APNA provide nurses with knowledge and skills to provide interventions for opioid use disorders and promote effective treatment to those who need it.

Death by Suicide
Twenty US veterans commit suicide each day according to the Department of Veterans Affairs (3), yet death by suicide is believed to be mostly preventable if the person at risk receives proper screening, identification, and prompt intervention from competent mental health professionals. The APNA Competency Based Training for Suicide Prevention, the first of its kind for psychiatric-mental health nurse generalists, is a full day workshop which educates nurses on how to integrate these skills into their practice in order to prevent suicide. More information about the workshop can be found at

Additional Resources for Providers
In addition, free resources gathered with an eye to the needs of psychiatric-mental health nurses who provide care to military populations are available at Fact sheets, toolkits, and more provide guidelines and important considerations for providers. This online resource center includes extensive sections dedicated to the topics of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).

The American Psychiatric Nurses Association is a national professional membership organization committed to the specialty practice of psychiatric-mental health nursing and wellness promotion, prevention of mental health problems and the care and treatment of persons with psychiatric disorders. APNA’s membership is inclusive of all psychiatric mental health registered nurses including associate degree, baccalaureate, advanced practice (comprised of clinical nurse specialists and psychiatric nurse practitioners), and nurse scientists and academicians (PhD). APNA serves as a resource for psychiatric mental health nurses to engage in networking, education, and the dissemination of research.

The American Psychiatric Nurses Association is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.

1.Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (September 29, 2014). Veterans and military families. Retrieved from
2. National Institute on Drug Abuse (March 2013). Drug Facts – Substance Abuse in the Military. Retrieved from
3. Veterans Administration Suicide Prevention Program (July 2016). Facts about veteran suicide. Retrieved from

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