Supporting Our Veterans

Supporting Our Nation’s Veterans

There are approximately 19 million veterans living in the United States, representing about 6% of the total U.S. adult population. Similar to the U.S. population overall, the veteran population is expected to become more racially and ethnically diverse. And Veterans often have unique medical, behavioral, and social service needs. Health centers offer a hugely important service for Veterans who may not have access to the range of services they require. On a national level, health centers serve nearly 400,000 patients who identify as veterans, a rate steadily increasing over the last five years.

NACHC is committed to supporting health centers serving veterans in their communities. NACHC works with health centers on a range of topics including increasing access to care for veterans and their family members, veteran employment, and helping to establish partnerships with veteran-focused organizations in local communities. Below, we identify several tools and resources to assist health centers with their veteran-focused programs and initiatives.  

Featured Offering

Download the video: https://youtu.be/D28T4sb7hqs

Featured Resources:

  • Publication: Identification of Military Veterans Upon Implementation of a Standardized Screening Process in a Federally Qualified Health Center (October 2019)
    This Journal of Community Health  article documents the results of a Veteran status screening intervention in the health center setting intended to identify Veterans in the patient population so that the health center can better understand and meet their unique needs. The results show that the use of a standardized screening question in the Electronic Health Record system significantly increases the number of Veteran patients reported in UDS. In the case described, the health center identified an additional 450 Veteran patients as a result of the Veteran status screening intervention implemented.
  • Publication:  Health Centers Serving Veterans: A Compendium of Success Stories (July 2022)
    This 2022 NACHC publication features 10 health centers and one Primary Care Association from around the country, each doing innovative work to serve more veterans at their centers and within their communities. This product may spur some ideas of local partnering with the PCA, HCCN, nonprofits, as well as with your VAMC or CBOC. The publication is suitable for printing or sharing with colleagues; find it at the Health Center Resource Clearinghouse at: www.healthcenterinfo.org/results/?Combined=Veterans.

 

NACHC Veterans Interest Group

NACHC’s Veterans Interest Group (VIG) is an informal networking and information group intended to share promising practices, policy updates, and operational information regarding increased access to care and services for the Veteran populations served in community health centers. If you would like to receive Veterans-related updates via email from NACHC, please send your contact info to trainings@nachc.org. Previous updates and web recordings can be found below:

U.S. Veterans Health Administration (VHA)  Response to Coronavirus/COVID-19

https://www.va.gov/coronavirus-veteran-frequently-asked-questions/

Read VHA’s FAQs about the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic geared toward Veterans.

(Update March 30, 2022) Test-to-Treat Available for All Patients in Veteran’s Health Administration and Military Personnel and Their Families

The White House launched the Test-to-Treat initiative which gives individuals an important new way to quickly access free lifesaving treatment for COVID-19. Through this program, people are able to get tested and – if they are positive and treatments are appropriate for them – receive a prescription from a health care provider, and have their prescription filled, all at one location. These one-stop Test-to-Treat facilities are available at hundreds of locations nationwide, including HRSA-supported FQHCs [3].

Test-to-Treat is also available for all Veterans Affairs (VA) patients in VA clinics across the country. Linking patients who test positive with treatments that are appropriate for them is the standard of care in VA clinics. Each test done in the VA is linked to a care team, and accompanied by review, patient counseling, and consideration for treatment indication and eligibility. The VA also allows individuals with a positive home test result to have a virtual visit to connect with counseling and to receive oral medication if appropriate. VA sites have access to oral antiviral treatments for COVID-19, and treatment generally is provided on site or delivered via expedited mail. In addition, the Department of Defense (DoD) has made one-stop Test-to-Treat available at more than 60 DoD Medical Treatment Facilities (MTFs) across the country, with hundreds more primed to start operating soon. MTF patients across the country—including active duty service members and TRICARE beneficiaries—can access Test-to-Treat at facilities in their communities.

[3] https://aspr.hhs.gov/TestToTreat/Documents/Fact-Sheet.pdf

Resources for Serving Veterans in the Community

Medical-Legal Partnership

Veterans may benefit from a medical-legal partnership (MLP) program established at your health center or from a collaboration between your health center with an existing MLP in your community. Medical-legal partnerships integrate lawyers into health care settings to help clinicians, case managers, and social workers address and respond to the needs and deficiencies they see in their clinics. The National Center for Medical Legal Partnership, a HRSA-funded partner housed within The George Washington University, offers technical assistance and training resources for health centers intending to leverage legal services to provide whole-spectrum support to their patient population. Specific NCMLP guides regarding Veterans issues include:

Suicide Prevention

Veterans are encouraged to connect with resources one may need now to better respond to challenges one may face later. Veterans are driven and resilient, but everyone needs help sometimes. It is not always easy to ask for help, but there are people who want to listen.

If you know of a Veteran having a difficult time, the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) encourages them to reach out for peer-to-peer support, clinical care, or counseling. The VA recommends any of the following:

  • Call, text, or email a friend or family member to ask for support through a tough time. Veterans can find ways to get started on REACH OUT.
  • Connect with a fellow Veteran to talk about what you are going through.
  • Use these resources to find support through life’s challenges:
    • VA Solid Start: Qualified Solid Start representatives will call Veterans three times in their first year of separation to walk through the benefits available to them.
    • MyVA411: Veterans, their families, and caregivers can call 1-800-MyVA411 (800-698-2411) to easily access information on VA benefits and services.
    • Make the Connection: More than 600 Veterans and family members from across the country have shared their stories of strength and recovery. It only takes a few seconds to find a story to which Veterans can relate.
    • SAMHSA Behavioral Health Treatment Services: This tool, which is confidential and anonymous, allows people to search by ZIP code for local treatment facilities that focus on substance use/addiction and/or mental health issues.
    • Self-Check Assessment: People cope with stressful situations in different ways. This confidential, anonymous risk assessment can show if stress and depression are affecting Veterans.
    • National Call Center for Homeless Veterans: Veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness can get free, confidential support through the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans. Call or chat online 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
    • Veterans Crisis Line: If you find yourself in crisis, do not hesitate to reach out for immediate help. Emergency care is available by calling 911 or going to your nearest emergency department. The Veterans Crisis Line is available 24/7 and can be reached by calling 1-800-273-8255 (Press 1 if you are a Veteran) or chat online here or text 838255.

VA MISSON Act and the Community Care Network

The Department of Veterans Affairs launched the Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks Act of 2018 (MISSION Act), which strengthens the nationwide VA Health Care System by empowering Veterans with more health care options with its Veterans Community Care Program (VCCP). Also known as the Community Care Network (CCN), health centers can purchase care for Veterans in their community through this network. For more information on the CCN and how a health center can join, check out these NACHC resources:

  • Publication: Veterans and the Community Care Network (CCN): A Backgrounder and Toolkit for FQHCs (July 2022)
  • Publication: Veterans and the Community Care Network (CCN): A Fact Sheet for FQHCs (July 2022)

To stay involved and be in the know, sign up for the Office of Community Care Newsletter produced by the VHA. This newsletter provides the latest updates for community-based providers who are officially part of the VA’s Community Care Network.

Partnerships

NACHC has supported the establishment of partnerships between health centers, the VA, VA’s Third Party Administrators, Veteran Service Organizations, and other service providers . These partnerships have helped veterans access high-quality care in their communities more easily. Specifically, our efforts have resulted in the development of timely fact sheets, webinars, and success stories, which NACHC has used to educate health centers about best practices for successful partnership building in support of Veterans’ access to care.

Partnership areas include:

Community Outreach
NACHC works to support partnerships that leverage outreach strategies meant to reach underserved veteran populations as well as to inform veterans about the care options available to them.

NACHC helps health centers around the country as they develop direct relationships with their local VA facilities. These local partnerships help streamline the process for veterans interested in accessing community care, especially in remote communities or in communities near VA facilities with longer wait times.

Health centers can find out more about how to serve veterans in their community by reaching out directly to their local VA facilities and local military installations:

Find VA contacts
Find contacts at local military installations

Related Data Sources

There is a significant amount of publicly available information health centers can use to start getting smart about the needs of their local veteran population.

National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics
U.S. Census Bureau – Veterans Data
The Bureau of Labor Statistics – Veterans data