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Peer 1

The first notice of HIV and AIDS appeared in a published report in a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report in June 1981 (Gilead HIV, n.d.). As more and more individuals became inflicted and victimized by the disease, information about the disease were less than forthcoming as the disease was affecting marinized communities (sex workers, homosexuals, and drug addicts). The year that made things come to a head was between 1986-1986. During that time, it was found that, in 1985, more people were diagnosed with AIDS in that year than in other years combined, the virus that caused AIDS was designated as Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), and the Surgeons General issued the Surgeon General’s Report on AIDS that made it clear that HIV could not be spread casually and calls for a nationwide educational campaign (including early sex education in schools), increased use of condoms, and voluntary HIV testing (, n.d.).

Since then, the attitude towards HIV and AIDS has changed. The United States has gone from being blissfully ignorant to working towards saving lives before HIV has the chance of becoming AIDS. One of the examples of this is the development of medications used to prevent HIV from becoming AIDS. The development of PrEP for at-risk individuals has worked to reduce the numbers by reducing the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99% and reducing the risk of getting HIV from injection drug use by at least 74% (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021). Another medication, PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis), is s the use of antiretroviral drugs after a single high-risk event to stop HIV seroconversion that must be started as soon as possible to be effective—and always within 72 hours of a possible exposure (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022).



Peer 2

Suicide rates among veterans have been at an alarming rate. According to Bossarte et al. (2010), suicidal ideation is double among those who have been deployed versus those without military experience. This topic is one of significant importance to me, being a veteran and having lost friends that I have served with to suicide. 

This has been a topic that has received much attention since President George W. Bush. President Obama signed a bill requiring independent reviews of DOD and VA programs intended to prevent suicide by creating peer support groups, community outreach, and attempting to attract professionals to work for the VA by repaying student loan debt (Leonard, 2015).  

Per Kime (2020), President Trump signed bills making a three-digit national suicide prevention hotline, offering grants to nonprofits who work with veterans, and expanding services to veterans outside the VA while conducting studies related to suicide among veterans.  

These responses were a step in the right direction for both the VA and veterans across the nation. I have seen firsthand the struggle of veterans waiting far too long for an appointment or a bed at a VA psychiatric facility. The attempt to attract more providers while allowing veterans to seek care in hospitals that they trust has allowed more to be seen in a timely manner. I do believe more could be done. 

One issue both veterans and non-veterans face is the lack of placement options after inpatient mental health treatment. In my opinion and experience, a solid outpatient plan with support and resources is the key to increased success. I have seen too many veterans being turned away by the VA for assorted reasons, but mostly to the lack of beds or staffing within their facilities. This is the same for community options. Current wait times for Community Based Health Hospitals in Minnesota for a patient facing a six-month commitment is more than four months. Most patients will never be placed in a CBHH. Funding must be used to create more placement options for veterans. I believe there should be IRTS type facilities or safe spots created with veterans in mind to help avoid homelessness, receive both mental health and chemical dependency treatment, and most importantly work with others who have served. In the last five years, veteran homelessness has decreased almost 23% (Moses, 2020).  

Another area I believe could be improved upon is the post deployment screenings. After deployment I sat with a nurse for several minutes talking about symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, depression, and substance use. I remember this screening feeling especially important at the time and it led to me becoming a nurse. Unfortunately, this has been the last time I have been asked by anyone connected to the military about these symptoms. After deployment, someone should reach out to veterans to ask the same questions every few months for the first year. Other questions should be included such as living situation, employment, and connection with other veterans. Not all veterans are willing to call the VA or a medical provider and may not have family or friends that they are in contract with. I know there have been vast improvements in the care for veterans and I am thankful for that.  


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