For many military service members, the fight ceases upon arriving home. For others the fight continues, but in a different way.
The stressors of war can create invisible wounds that service members, veterans and their families endure after tours of duty. These wounds can transpire into behavioral health struggles, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder, which may lead to unemployment, substance abuse and problematic family relations.
While data show that the number of veterans combating such problems has decreased, it is imperative that we continue to facilitate support services in each community to restore veterans and military families who need help.
To rally behind our service members, veterans and military families, the Community Blueprint Advisory Council – a national coalition of more than 50 veteran and military-serving organizations, nonprofits and government agencies – joined together to develop a suite of community solutions:
- Why Behavioral Health Matters – In order to serve our service members and veterans in a manner commensurate with their needs, we must understand and provide for the unique stressors they face day to day.
- Annual Anti-Stigma Campaign – Encourage veterans and their families to defy stigmas and seek help. Example: The Theater Of War: Soldiers and Citizens Tour – Brings awareness to veterans’ behavioral health struggles by presenting dramatic readings of Sophocles’ "Ajax." This Behavioral Health Resource Guide provides information on the agencies that led a two-year effort to share this anti-stigma campaign.
- Public Service Announcements – Provide the military and veteran community powerful public service messages to support them through mental health challenges.
- Provider Training – Train local health providers on special issues on post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury and other veterans’ issues.
- First Responder Training – Teach police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians about issues that affect members of the military community.
- Ease of Access to Care – Make it easy for veterans, service members and their families to access mental health care.
- Community Action Team – Learn how to form a Behavioral Health Community Action Team.
- Behavioral Health Organizations – Reach out to national and local organizations that provide behavioral health services and support for the military and veteran community.
- Behavioral Health Monthly Observances – Each month, organizations rally efforts to bring awareness, attention and training for behavioral health. Select a month and pledge your support or volunteer your time to continue to support behavioral health efforts.
- Center for Deployment Psychology – The Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP) trains military and civilian behavioral health professionals to provide high-quality, culturally-sensitive, evidence-based behavioral health services to military personnel, veterans and their families.
- CDP offers a Cultural Vital Signs Checklist, which suggests ways to obtain data to better inform how to provide care to a client. They might be considered “good to ask” questions as you work with a military population.
- CDP also offers a Culturally Competent Behaviors Checklist, designed to heighten the awareness and sensitivity of health care professionals to the importance of military cultural competence in health and human service settings.