For many veterans, coming home from combat marks the beginning of a new battle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, substance abuse, depression and other mental and emotional wounds of war.
Unfortunately, most community health care providers are not well prepared to care for the special needs of military veterans and their families. According to a study commissioned by the Military Officers Association of America and the United Health Foundation, only 13 percent of civilian mental health care providers met criteria for military cultural competency or used evidence-based approaches to treat problems commonly seen among veterans.
The result is that many of the men and women who have served our country and their families aren’t getting the appropriate mental health care to help them heal. That’s why the United Health Foundation has announced a $1.35 million grant and partnership with the New Jersey Hospital Association (NJHA) to bolster veteran health care through innovative partnerships and community engagement. In particular, the grant will expand the Veteran Navigator program. Veteran Navigators are veterans who have received special health care training and can help direct their military peers to high-quality local mental health, behavioral health and supportive services, especially in underserved areas of the state.
|Veteran Navigators applaud the new grant|
|Veterans show their support for expanded Veteran Navigator program and better access to health care for veterans in all areas of New Jersey|
The United Health Foundation and NJHA announced the new partnership and grant at a forum in Princeton, NJ on June 13, “Managing the Complexity of Veteran Health: Serving Those Who Have Served.” In addition to executives from UnitedHealthcare and NJHA, Veteran Navigators Don Sanford and Jaye Silver were in attendance along with New Jersey public officials; U.S. Representative Tom MacArthur (NJ-3), Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno and New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Adjutant General Michael Cunniff attended the forum to show their support for the initiative.
In appreciation for the service of our veterans, we have an obligation to ensure that they get the health care they need when they return home. By expanding the Veteran Navigators program, we can ensure that New Jersey veterans who live in all parts of the state, including rural and underserved communities, can access high-quality programs and services that can improve their health and quality of life.