Remembering Our Veterans Today; Supporting Them Better Tomorrow

Press Room

Tuesday November 11, 2014

Remembering Our Veterans Today; Supporting Them Better Tomorrow

(Washington, DC) November 11, 2014: Today, CommonHealth ACTION joins the nation in celebration of our military veterans.  We acknowledge the courage of these men and women as well as the profound sacrifices that they and their families have made in assurance of our freedom and security.  When veterans return to their communities and families following their military service, they are expected to transition back into civilian life. However, veterans are often faced with challenges in their post-military lives for which they have either limited or no support.

"We will have an influx of veterans in the coming years, and they will be more diverse than ever.  This trend will have a significant impact on our health care and social support systems both in terms of addressing the volume and varied needs of our veteran population," said Natalie S. Burke, President and CEO of CommonHealth ACTION.  "It is imperative that we take action now to ensure that our veterans are properly supported in their transition to civilian life." 

Last month, CommonHealth ACTION released Creating a Culture of Equity for Veterans Mental Health, the result of a year-long study.  The findings outline the historical context for military mental health, military socialization and stress, as well as discussing the implications for an increasingly diversified veteran population.  The report also describes opportunities to ensure that veteran subpopulations-including but not limited to veterans of color, women, students, and others-experience equitable access to systems and institutions that are designed to serve them.  The report identifies strategies for designing and implementing policies and programs as well as questions to spark further research and discussion.

To explore the report findings, CommonHealth ACTION hosted a symposium and convened a panel of four experts on October 23, 2014, who shared their experiences working with veterans from varying backgrounds across the country and reflected on their personal experiences as a U.S. veteran. In addition to Burke, who moderated the program, panelists included: Christopher Deutsch, Director of Communications, Justice For Vets; Denyse S. Gordon, MhR, Support Professional, CACIMs. Veteran America, Emeritus; Tiffany S. Mansfield, Program Analyst, U.S. Department of State; Barbara Van Dahlen, Ph.D., Founder & President, Give an Hour.

"Veterans' issues are everyone's issue and the community is a critical piece," said Van Dahlen.  "We need to do more to create healthy veterans long before they separate from the military.  It has to be a two way effort to integrate military personnel and civilians," said an attendee.

The panelists agreed that efforts of veteran-serving organizations and communities are more important than ever.  As the armed forces scale back the longest war in American history, and Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts generate less media attention, there is a chance that the dedicated service of our veterans and our promise to them could dissipate from our minds, resulting in decreased recognition and funding for critical veteran-related services. 

"To all the veteran-serving organizations and communities -- everyone has his or her own sphere of influence and we each have a role to play in creating culture change that supports equity for veteran populations," said Burke.

Today, CommonHealth ACTION's message to veterans--whether deployed or remained on U.S. soil, "first timer" or retiring from a lengthy career, male or female, young or old--is that we honor your commitment and would like to work with you by creating more equitable health outcomes for all who serve.  By sharing our report findings, CommonHealth ACTION hopes to lift up your voices and unique perspectives related to mental health and other challenges, along with elevating supports and opportunities. 

"We need a national dialogue that engages veterans and their families, as well as military leaders, service organizations, policymakers, and others in order to create the culture change needed to achieve greater equity for veterans' mental health," concluded Burke.  

On November 12 from 1pm-3pm, please join us online for our Twitterstorm as we share findings and calls to action from our Creating a Culture of Equity for Veterans' Mental Health report onCommonHealth ACTION's Facebook page and Twitter@healthyveterans.  We encourage you to share information about how we can create more equitable solutions to veterans' health outcomes using #healthyveterans.  

For more information about CommonHealth ACTION's Veterans' Mental Health Project and to access the report brief and full report, click here.