In the month of November, and on Veterans Day in particular, we focus on those who have served, or are currently serving our country, and we thank them for their service. JJ&W
“Ask the Question” Listens Then Shares Resources
In its effort to listen and better serve the community, the NH Legislative Commission on PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) conducted a study on NH Veterans and identified these facts:
- There are 100,000 Veterans living in NH – the 5th largest Veteran population per capita in the nation
- Only 30,000 of those Veterans receive their healthcare at the VA Medical Center – not all Veterans are eligible for VA care, and some choose not to seek care there
- Those Veterans seeking care outside the VA identified one of their challenges as “not feeling understood by the providers who serve them”
The data showed that the best way to provide the care and services Veterans need – starts with all medical personnel asking the question, “Have you or a family member ever served in the military?”
Enter, the “Ask the Question” campaign and website, funded by the NH Department of Health and Human Services. This website provides tools and information to encourage agencies and organizations from a variety of provider sectors (healthcare, social services, education & others) to 1) Ask patients if they or a family member have ever served in the military and 2) follow guidelines on how to best help this Veteran population.
The site offers specific information to help those Veterans who are 65 and older (48% of NH’s Veterans are in this category); Veterans with families who may need support systems for children when a parent is deployed; Veterans seeking career guidance after their military career and Veterans who could benefit from the support and services offered by NH’s faith-based community. For more information, check out the “Ask The Question” website at https://www.askthequestion.nh.gov/
Warrior Care Network: CSR for Medical Centers
Another important program for Veterans comes via a partnership between the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) and 4 world-renowned academic medical centers – Emory Healthcare Veterans Program in Atlanta; Mass General Hospital’s Home Base Program (Boston); Rush University Medical Center’s Road Home Program (Chicago) and UCLA’s Health-Operation Mend Program (Los Angeles).
The program, called the Warrior Care Network, offers treatment, support and mental health care for Veterans who are living with PTSD, TBI, and Military Sexual Trauma. Those warriors who complete the Warrior Care Network program have seen significant improvement in PTSD and depression symptoms. Programs range from intensive outpatient programs that are 2 to 3 weeks long to treatments that include individual and group therapy; stress management; family support and education; and alternative therapies including yoga, art, and Tai Chi.
The TRACTS Program Breaks Down Silos While Serving Veterans with TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury)
The Translational Research Center for TBI and Stress Disorders, or TRACTS, is a RR&D National Center for TBI Research. TRACTS staff come from all parts of the hospital (from mental health, neuropsychology, neuroscience, and medicine) and their only focus is the OEF/OIF Veteran population and their unique characteristics and experiences. Many returning Veterans report feeling more “understood” by the TRACTS research team because of their deep understanding of the Veteran population.
The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) reported nearly 414,000 TBIs among U.S. service members worldwide between 2000 and late 2019. More than 185,000 Veterans who use VA for their health care have been diagnosed with at least one TBI. TBI and its associated co-morbidities are also a significant cause of disability outside of military settings.
For more information about TRACTS, click on the link below:
Veterans Crisis Line: Outreach to Overcome Psychological and Structural Barriers
Many veterans are too proud to reach out to traditional services providers. Enter the Veterans Crisis Line, a way for them to easily connect from anywhere at anytime. It is a free, confidential resource that’s available 24/7 for Veterans/Service members and their families – even if they are not registered with VA or enrolled in VA health care. The responders at the Veterans Crisis Line are with the Department of Veterans Affairs, and many are Veterans themselves. There are options to call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1; or to text 838255. There is also an online chat capability offered. Responders are specially trained to help Veterans of all ages and can help the person calling through the crisis, and direct them to the services they need.
For more information on identifying signs of suicide ideation (e.g. behaviors exhibited by those who may be experiencing suicidal thoughts), visit the NH Coalition for Suicide Prevention website at: NH Coalition for Suicide Prevention (zerosuicidesnh.org).
Robin Schell, APR, Fellow PRSA, is Senior Counsel and Partner at Jackson Jackson & Wagner, a behavioral public relations and management consulting firm on the Seacoast of NH. Contact Robin at 603/770-3607 or firstname.lastname@example.org.