Some people might only consider themselves a “veteran” if they were deployed during a war. Is there some way we should be asking clients about their service history to make sure we’re getting the right information?

Date Published: November 2015

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As you can see from the following sample exchange, you may find that if you simply ask if a client is a veteran, you miss out on capturing individuals whose military experience did not include combat operations.

  • Case Manager: “Okay, Sharon, are you a veteran?”
  • Sharon: “No.” At this point, if the case manager were to stop probing, she may mark Sharon’s veteran status as “no” in HMIS. If the case manager were to continue probing, however…
  • Case Manager: Were you ever in the military?
  • Sharon: Well, I was an X-ray technician in the Air Force for a couple of years, but I was never in combat and I didn’t finish my enlistment – I got out when I got pregnant.
  • Case Manager: Did you work as an X-ray technician or were you still in training when you got out?
  • Sharon: I was stationed at a hospital for a few months after I finished tech school.
  • Case Manager: Okay, great! You might not think of yourself as a veteran, but your service means that we do.

So, what just happened? If the case manager had stopped probing, we would have ended up with the wrong answer because the word ‘veteran’ meant something different to the client than it does in HMIS. With the additional probes, we got to the right answer by following up until we could determine that the client’s military service does meet the definition of ‘veteran.’

Tags: Data - Data Standards