Vet Centers of America Search by ZIP CODE

There are more than 300 Vet Centers across the United States and U.S. Territories whose primary function is to help veterans and their families adjust to civilian life after combat.

Vet Centers help overwhelmed VA hospitals by providing Veterans with valuable services such as counseling for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Military Sexual Trauma, bereavement counseling, marriage and family counseling, and resources like VA benefits information and suicide prevention referrals.

To search by zip code for a Vet Center in your area click here

If you do not find a Vet Center near you, check out the Mobile Vet Centers.  There are 50 motorized vehicles – resembling super-sized recreational vehicles – that are driven to far-reaching rural areas as part of an “On the Road” outreach program

Professor says US Military Monitors Machines Better than Soldiers Mental Health

As the United States scratches their heads wondering what could have caused a 38 year old Army Staff Sergeant to allegedly massacre 16 Afghan men, women, and children on Sunday, one professor has an idea.

Dr. Bengt Arnetz, professor of occupational and environmental medicine at Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich., suggested that the current system used by the military to detect or recognize mental health issues is woefully inadequate.

“All the systems have never been evaluated,” said Arnetz, whose research focuses on the effects of stress on the psychological well being of police, first responders and soldiers. “I think that they’re very, very bad at monitoring people close to the breaking point. We don’t have good surveillance tools.”

To give an example, Arnetz compared the maintenance and monitoring of military machinery to the maintenance and monitoring of soldiers’ mental states. “If you look at the machinery, you check for wear and tear and you do repair work and tune it up on regular basis,” he said. “Where soldiers are concerned; we don’t have a systematic approach.”

If soldiers are expected to be some kind of low maintenance machine, it is no wonder that some soldiers may be hesitant to report unusual behavior on the part of their fellow troops.

“We have talked with police working in inner city Detroit, and they told me it’s very difficult to bring it up,” he said. “Sometimes when you bring it up… you see a behavior change, they either deny it or become quite aggressive. They don’t want to push it.”

Source: Soldier’s Alleged Kandahar Killing Spree: Were Warning Signs Missed?

Veterans Crisis Line: Recognizing the Signs of Suicide Risk

Updated: February 19th, 2012

If you are a Veteran having thoughts about hurting or killing yourself, and you are looking for ways to do so, then you need help fast.   Pick up the phone and call the Veterans Crisis Line today: 1-800-273-8255 (Press 1)

If you are not ready to talk to someone about suicidal feelings over the phone, or concerned that a family member/loved one might overhear your conversation, then try using the confidential “live chat” featured at VeteransCrisisLine.net

or try the new text feature added in February 2012*

Veterans who aren’t quite sure whether they are depressed, suicidal, or both can now do a “self-check” quiz that will be reviewed by an experienced counselor: www.vetselfcheck.org

  • Increased Self-destructive behavior such as drug abuse, alcoholism, weapons usage, and/or engagement in risky activities without thought.
  • Excessive Rage, anger, agitation, sleeplessness, anxiety, or mood swings
  • Withdrawal from family and friends. Feeling like there is no reason to live.

If you are a concerned family member or the friend of a Veteran in crisis, then please visit the website to find out how you can help.

A November 2011 report from the service’s Suicide Prevention Program says that 11 Marines attempted suicide in October, raising the year-to-date figure to 163 for 2011.

The news comes on the heels of another report from the influential Center for a New American Security in Washington that says U.S. service members took their own lives at a rate of one every 36 hours between 2005 and 2010.

The report also says that a veteran dies by suicide every 80 minutes, attributing that information to the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Read related story: here

*Update February 19th, 2012: VA Adds Texting Feature to Crisis Line: Since its launch in 2007, the VA’s Veterans Crisis Line has answered more than 500,000 confidential calls, and trained responders have made more than 18,000 rescues. In 2009, an anonymous online chat service was added, which has already helped more than 28,000 people.
  • Now VA has added a third option for veterans, service members and family members who would rather text than call or go online: a free text messaging service at 838255.
  • The confidential Veterans Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255, Press 1), online chat (www.VeteransCrisisLine.net), and
  • text messaging service (838255) are monitored 24/7 by trained crisis responders.
Learn more about VA’s overall crisis prevention program at www.mentalhealth.va.gov/suicide_prevention.

Veterans Participating in Clinical Research Protected by VA Office of Research Oversight

Are you considering volunteering in a research study?

Information and recommendations from ORO

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) ranks as one of the nation’s leaders in health research. Thousands of studies are conducted at VA medical centers, outpatient clinics, and nursing homes each year.  VA research has resulted in many health advancements.  For example, VA researchers:

Man Thinking as woman discusses something with him
  • developed artificial limbs that allow amputees more independence and a better quality of life
  • invented the cardiac pacemaker
  • performed the first successful liver transplantation
  • played a major role in the development of the CT (or CAT) scan to view the inside of the body
  • tested new drugs and treatments for diseases as AIDS, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and osteoporosis
  • developed the nicotine patch to help people stop smoking.

If you decide to participate in an approved VA research study you need to understand some of the basic requirements for good research.  Take the time to review the Basic Research Requirements  and Answers to Frequently Asked Questions  provided here and discuss them with people you trust. ORO hopes that this information will help you reach a knowledgeable and informed decision that will be in the best interest of both you the participant/Veteran and the VA.

Other VA Research Resources

VA Research Today
A magazine created to commemorate the 85th anniversary of VA Research

Reading this magazine will help you gain perspective on how health issues affect Veterans and what VA is doing to advance health research. 

Office of Research and Development

This website will give you information about VA’s various research programs and a state by state listing of research centers, clinical trials, and other Veteran services throughout the country.

Free Educational Materials for Veterans Volunteering in Research 

If you are considering volunteering in a VA research study, be sure to order this free information material designed to help you understand the benefits of being in a research study as well as any risks or side effects.  It is important that you know what questions you should ask before you agree to take part in a research study and how VA will protect your rights and welfare as a research subject.

Telehealth: Connecting Veterans at Home with VA Nursing Staff through Videoconferencing

Veterans who are hundreds of miles away from the nearest VA hospital are now able to be “seen” by a VA physician without having to leave their home.  Thanks to modern technology, many different types of exams and clinic visits can be done using real-time videoconferencing, saving patients long drives and long waits.

Since 2003, the VA has been using a state-of-the-art technology known as Telehealth.   Use of this new-age service has resulted in more accessible healthcare for veterans everywhere.  VA healthcare providers are now able to see, hear, and talk to patients through a TV screen, while allowing the same privacy and clinical standards as patients visiting one of their facilities in person.

Each VA has a Telehealth Coordinator who collaborates with participating healthcare providers in setting up videoconferencing clinics so that specialist clinicians (like dermatologists or surgeons) can see a veteran patient living in a remote area.

General Telehealth (CCGT) improves access and visits to healthcare provders for veterans in rural or underserved areas.  By using video-conferencing technologies and diagnostic equipment, specialists from VA Medical Centers can treat patients in an outpatient clinic close to their home, avoiding travel and offering easier access to specialist care.

Home Telehealth (CCHT) is a service available to veteran patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart failure, high blood pressure, and mental illness.  Veterans with these illnesses can be monitored at home using telehealth technology, often delaying or preventing veterans from being admitted into long-term care facilities. This particular program provides services that include:

*Symptom management

*Vital sign monitoring

*Self-management

*Medication management & adherence

*Socialization and caregiver support

*Service coordination

For home telehealth, the type of home technology selected is individualized for each veteran, and a “Care Coordinator” is assigned to the patient.  The care coordinator is usually a registered nurse or social worker who manages patients with the technology to meet their complex medical and social needs.  This program helps keep veteran patients as independent as possible for as long as possible.

The cost of CCHT averages $1,600 per annum, and this has been compared with the $13,121 per annum for VHA’s home-based primary care service and $77,745 per annum for private nursing home care. Information on patient satisfaction with CCHT-based care is collected from patients every 3 months. Surveys in 2006 and 2007 found a mean satisfaction score of 86%.

Telehealth technologies are only one of several services that the VA provides at their PolyTrauma Rehab Centers located in Tampa FL, Minneapolis MN, Richmond VA, and Palo Alto CA.  These particular sites help improve access to care for combat wounded veterans who have multiple injuries by arranging for them to receive their care closer to home.

For more info contact:

Care Coordination Services (11CC), Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Avenue N.W., Washington DC 20420

http://www.telehealth.va.gov/
Read Related Article: The Veterans Health Administration’s CCHT Programme – mainstreamed home telehealth and care coordination

September is Military Suicide Awareness Month

Kansas City, September 1, 2011: The members of the Ladies Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) mourn every military death, no matter the cause. As the female relatives of those who fight overseas in combat for our country, they know firsthand the heartache and sacrifice that comes from having a loved one in the U.S. military. But the rising tragedy of military suicides has struck at the heart of every member of the Ladies Auxiliary VFW. That is why they are recognizing the entire month of September as Military Suicide Awareness Month.

To show those in their communities that they care, members are wearing a teardrop sticker every day of the month to represent the millions of tears shed for every service member lost to suicide. The teardrop sticker template is available for download at https://www.ladiesauxvfw.org/images/stories/Suicide_Awareness_Teardrop.pdf  and can be printed on any full-sheet sticker paper and cut out.

<<Download Tear Drop Template

“It’s a small gesture of solidarity and concern,” said National Americanism Director Sandi Onstwedder. “These men and women are our heroes, and anything we can do to bring this issue to light is a chance to help one of them.”

A reported 20-30 percent of returning soldiers have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a major contributor to suicidal thoughts. In June 2010 alone, soldiers committed suicide at a rate of one per day. All branches of the military along with the Department of Veterans Affairs are working to lower these heartbreaking numbers, provide better mental health services and bring awareness to the public.

The Ladies Auxiliary VFW wants to help. They are hoping those in their communities will see the teardrop on their shirts and ask them about it. When they do, members want others to know there are resources out there, such as hotlines, chat rooms and mobile apps.

Here is a list of some of the resources available:

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-TALK (8255)
www.armyg1.army.mil/hr/suicide www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ (Includes live 1-to-1 chat services with a counselor) www.ptsd.va.gov (Learn about the PTSD Coach mobile app) Veteran Combat Call Center (Talk to another combat veteran): 877-927-8387

“We want to give a voice to those who are hurting,” said National President Gwen Rankin.

“The 520,000 members of our organization are willing to step up. That’s why my theme this year is Step Up – Leave No Veteran Behind. We want to make a difference in their lives and in the lives of their families.”

To learn more about the Ladies Auxiliary VFW and its programs, please go to www.ladiesauxvfw.org, where you will find the teardrop sticker template under Programs, then Americanism.

VA Personal Health Records Available Online for Veterans Registered with My HealtheVet

Veterans seeking or needing 24/7 anywhere, any time internet access to VA health care and military history information can find the web-based tools empowering them to do so through My Healthevet.

Launched in 2003, My Healthevet is VA’s award-winning online Personal Health Record offering America’s veterans access to trusted, secure, and informed health and benefits information at their convenience.

Veterans can register online to access their VA Personal Health Record including:

*VA Prescription Refills  *Lab & Appointments  *Military Health History

*Vitals Tracking & Graphing  *VA Benefits & Services  *Wellness Reminders

Register for Your VA Personal Health Record by:

<<<Clicking here: