Mental health disparities affect a large amount of population across the United States. However, nobody is more affected by unstable mental health than those members of the military and their families. With the increase in the need for security in different areas of the world, military soldiers are deployed to assist in securing and protecting those areas. Often, these soldiers see combat and are affected in their mental state. Not only are the soldiers affected by the deployment, their families are often affected as well. Spouses and children left at home have adjustment problems due to the absence of the other parent. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can develop, not only in the soldier, but also the family members as well. Soldiers are less accepting of mental health services upon return to civilian life (Hoge, et.al., 2014). By providing advocation and services to the soldiers and their families, before, during, and after deployment, mental health for both the soldier and families can be improved.
Population Health Issue and Population Affected
Military personnel and their families are affected by the deployment of a soldier. These soldiers are away from home for a minimum of six months and can stay deployed for up to eighteen months. If the soldier has seen combat, their percentage of developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder increases (Nasveld, et.al., 2018). And there is also the risk for injury that will affect the soldier’s self-image. Deployment also means added stress for the family members. The spouse is left to maintain finances, household, and children’s lives while the soldier is deployed (James & Countryman, 2012). Not only are those chores difficult, the spouse worries about the soldier and what may happen to him/her. Children of military families are also affected by the soldier and their deployment. According to the Veteran’s Administration, reactions to deployment of the parent depends on the child’s age. The age at which sees the most behavior issues are that of the younger children from age 3-5 (V.A. 2018).
Advocacy Programs Researched in this Area
Due to the backlog of veteran’s services through the Veteran’s Administration, other programs were created to help create other resources for veterans to obtain mental health care. The Veteran’s Choice Program was initiated by Congress to relieve congestion in the V.A. mental health department. This allows veterans to seek mental health services from providers within their community. This initiative also proposes more training to the mental health providers in the aspects of the military culture and prevention of suicide. This program, which was due to run out of funding in May 2018, has received new funding and revitalization for the next year.
Another program initiated by the Veteran’s Administration for veterans to help with the backlog of patients in the healthcare system is called VETS, also known as Veterans E-health & Telemedicine support Act of 2017. This program allows veterans to receive medical and mental health services within their home. By creating a familiar and confidential environment for the veterans, they are less resistant to mental health services.
In researching these programs, most of the population is not aware they exist. The veterans themselves may not have received these programs as their options for health care through the Veterans Administration. By educating military personnel and the public of the programs that are available for the veterans, there would be a greater increase in the participation of these services by military personnel and veterans. Both programs are free as they are part of the military medical benefit.
Effective Attributes of the Programs
In the First Choice Program, the veteran and their families are able to receive mental health services that are provided in their communities. This alleviates the need for the veteran to travel long distances to seek treatment at a V.A. run facility. This also helps the veteran to receive mental health treatment in a timely manner, which will decrease the chance of violent outbursts and possible suicide.
The VETS program will create more access to mental health, as well as, medical health care treatment. By allowing the veteran to remain in their home and receive mental health care in the comfort of their home, they are able to receive confidential mental health care treatment without the stigma of being seen at a mental health facility. This also allows for family members to speak with the mental health professionals to gain information regarding interventions that may be performed to help the veteran in crisis.
Health Advocacy Plan
I propose to initiate informative meetings in my local area on the mental health care opportunities for the veterans that reside in my area. These meetings will be provided at the local American Legion and V.F.W. posts in the surrounding area. This information will also be provided to the local health care organizations that participate in mental health care, including hospitals, and counseling centers.
Objectives for the Policy Implemented
I perceive that more mental health professionals will receive training in counseling of veterans that have mental health issues. I also perceive that their will be an increase in mental health care sought by veterans that have seen combat during deployment. With the increase in mental health counseling, there will be a decrease in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms among those participating in counseling.
Data and Evidence to Substantiate Proposed Need
According to statistics obtained in research regarding mental health in veterans. According to the National Veterans Foundation, 20 percent of veterans returning from the Gulf war areas have major depression or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Of those soldiers that have returned from the Gulf area, 20% have PTSD (SAMHSA, 2018). Of those that return, only 50% will seek treatment for mental health conditions. And of those that receive treatment, half will not receive adequate treatment for their condition. Substance abuse is also high among military with 39% suffering from alcohol abuse (“”Veterans PTSD Statistics | Statistics: Depression, TBI and Suicide””, 2018).
Do Something. (2108). 11 facts about military families. Retrieved from https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-military-families
Hoge, C., Grossman, S., Auchterlonie, J., Riviere, L., Milliken, C., & Wilk, J. (2014). PTSD Treatment for Soldiers After Combat Deployment: Low Utilization of Mental Health Care and Reasons for Dropout. Psychiatric Services, 65(8), 997-1004. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201300307
James, T., & Countryman, J. (2012). Psychiatric Effects of Military Deployment on Children and Families: The Use of Play Therapy for Assessment and Treatment. Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience, 9(2), 16-20.
Lifeline For Vets. (2016). Troubling Veteran Mental Health Facts and Statistics that Need to be Addressed. Retrieved from https://nvf.org/veteran-mental-health-facts-statistics/
Nasveld, P., Cotea, C., Pullman, S., & Pietrzak, E. (2018). Effects of deployment on mental health in modern military forces: A review of longitudinal studies. Journal Of MilitaryAnd Veteran’s Health, 20(3).
Sharp, M., Fear, N., Rona, R., Wessely, S., Greenberg, N., Jones, N., & Goodwin, L. (2015). Stigma as a Barrier to Seeking Health Care Among Military Personnel With Mental Health Problems. Epidemiologic Reviews, 37(1), 144-162. doi: 10.1093/epirev/mxu012
Veterans and Military Families | SAMHSA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/veterans-military-families
Veterans PTSD Statistics | Statistics: Depression, TBI and Suicide. (2015).