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A line of Servicemembers wearing bright orange life vests and led by U.S. Army Spc. Tracey Hargroves haul in lines aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS Cleveland on the Pacific Ocean.

How to Screen for Military Service

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

Even after separating from the military, Veterans often continue to feel a strong sense of affiliation with aspects of their service.

The military has a distinct culture - represented by the unique symbols, values, mottos and traditions of each branch:

  • Army
  • Navy
  • Air Force
  • Marines
  • Coast Guard
  • Reserves and National Guard

Deployment and combat experiences are also unique and can profoundly impact one’s life.

Tips on Screening for Military Service

  • You might want to post a simple sign letting Veterans and Servicemembers know that you would like to know if they have served.

  • Respect a Veteran or Servicemember’s choice not to discuss their experiences.

  • Convey a willingness to listen to their experiences if the Veteran or Servicemember wants to discuss them in the future.

  • There are some questions that you may want to ask to clarify a client's military background. See some examples of Military Screening Questions below.

  • It is important to ensure you have enough time available to allow the Veteran or Servicemember to expand on answers if desired.

Mental Health History Pocket Card

The VHA Office of Academic Affiliations has developed a Mental Health History Pocket Card for Clinicians. The pocket card contains questions that can be helpful in understanding a Veteran’s medical problems and concerns in the context of their service history.

Military Screening Questions

Military Screening Questions:

  • Have you ever served in the military?

  • Do you have a close family member or partner 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 Reserves or National Guard? (Learn more.)

  • What was your branch and rank? (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.)

Download Military Screening Questions

Useful Resources

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