Using research to change lives in the military community
“We’re all here because we’re committed to one thing: Helping the brave men and women of our country—and their families—who raise their hand and say, ‘Send me, I’ll do what needs to be done.’”
These opening remarks from Lt. Col. Christopher Warner, M.D., a commander at Ft. Hood and the U.S. Army’s psychiatric consultant, at the TexVet Initiative’s “Where Research Meets the Road” symposium, perfectly describes TexVet’s mission to the military community.
The TexVet Initiative, a program of the Texas A&M Health Science Center, is a specialized information and referral portal that works with veteran and other I&R services to connect Texas military, veterans and their family members with information that is most important to them.
“TexVet is dedicated to providing veterans, military members and their families with equal access to information,” said Perry Jefferies, the TexVet Initiative manager. “By collecting information from all levels of veteran service organizations (VSO) that provide real assistance to veterans, we have created a collaborative network. Thanks to this network, veterans can easily find the people, events and resources there to improve their lives. “
Working in partnership with the Waco Veterans Affairs Center of Excellence for Research on Returning War Veterans, the “Where Research Meets the Road” event featured speakers and research about topics like Army behavioral health, suicide prevention, providing care for providers and supporting veterans’ families.
“For this event, we wanted to increase familiarity and the basis for collaboration between researchers learning about military and veterans, and enable VSOs to learn the ‘real deal’ straight from the people studying the problems VSOs work to solve,” Jefferies said. “The symposium also allowed researchers to gain deeper familiarity with VSOs and gain access to populations of veterans for future study. I am pleased to say we met our goals.”
Lt. Col. Warner’s presentation included facts about the history of post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) in the Army, the state of U.S. Army behavioral health before and after 9/11, the behavioral health system of care, the impact of leadership on behavioral health diagnoses, therapy outcome determinants and challenges to care delivery.
“When the first units went rolling into Baghdad, we suddenly realized there was a need and a demand for [behavioral health care]. We saw a rapid increase in mental health services and in provision of services within our hospitals,” Lt. Col. Warner said.
Because more than 50 percent of soldiers with PTSD and other mental health problems don’t receive care, it’s even more vital to stay engaged with those who do seek treatment.
“Once people make that hard decision to seek medical care, we have to keep them engaged,” Lt. Col. Warner said. “The data shows there is a stigma problem surrounding PTSD. The key area we must improve on is stopping people from dropping out when they do seek help and don’t get the help they need. I think this is a challenge for everyone in mental health. We must know what drives our patients.”
Other notable topics focused on preserving veterans and the families of service members along with information about a multi-media research program for homeless women veterans. Click here for video and links to all event presentations.
To find out more information on the TexVet Initiative and available services, visit: http://www.texvet.com/.