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How to Screen for Military Service

A man holding a questionnaire. Even after separating from the military, Veterans often continue to feel a strong sense of affiliation with aspects of military culture.

Military service can be a significant, if not central, piece of one's background. The military is a distinct culture - and each branch (Army, Marines, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard) is represented by its own unique symbols, values, and mottos. Deployment and combat experiences are also unique and can profoundly impact an individual's life.

Veteran status opens the door to many benefits and resources including VA healthcare and other VA resources such as support services for college and employment.

The table below provides a sample of some simple questions you may want to ask to clarify a client's military background. For a more information, please download the PDF.

Make sure you have enough time to allow the Service Member to expand on answers if desired. Alternatively, the Service Member may not wish to discuss their experiences and the provider should respect this. Convey a willingness to listen to their experiences if the Service Member wants to discuss them in the future.

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Military Screening Questions:

  • Have you ever served in the military?
  • Do you have a close family member who has served in the military?

If he or she has served in the military you might consider following up with questions such as:

  • What dates did you serve and when did you separate from the military, if you have?
  • Have you ever served in the National Guard or Reserve components? (Learn more.)
  • What branch and rank were you? (Learn more: Branch and Rank.)
  • What job did you have when you were serving?
  • Were you ever deployed? (Learn more.)
  • Did you ever serve in a combat theater?
  • Are there other things you would like to tell me about your military service?

Tip - Asking whether your client has close family members who have served in military can:

  • Lead to a deeper understanding of your client's family context.
  • Allow you to assess whether family functioning could benefit from connection with relevant resources. (Learn more.)

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Screening Questions

"Military service can be a significant, if not central, piece of one's background. "