The VA Center for Innovation and the Public Policy Lab have produced a report that provides an extensive look at the state of mental health for veterans. Many of the findings and anecdotes from veterans around the country parallel the basic principles that the Cohen Veterans Network was founded upon.
The stated goal of the Veteran Access to Mental Health Services report is to “illuminate actionable opportunities for improving access to mental healthcare” (p. 4).
One recurring theme from the report is that at the entry point into care veterans need an easy-to-understand pathway toward receiving care in non-clinical terms (p. 16-17). At the Cohen Veterans Network our intake process is fast and efficient, designed with minimal touch points to get clients into care with short wait times. Our intakes are done the same day a client contacts a Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic (Cohen Clinics). Furthermore, our clients should expect a non-clinical setting and low-level of bureaucracy at intake. We work to create warm, welcoming environments where clients can feel comfortable and confident that we will tailor our care to their needs.
Additionally, the report provides some insight from veterans who have sought out mental health care. According to the report, “for many veterans, private providers and nonprofits that offer confidential, bureaucracy-free access to timely care feel like a positive and desirable alternative” (p. 22). At CVN, our clinics are singularly focused on providing high-quality mental health care, while giving clients a trusted resource built around their schedule with concepts such as flexible office hours, childcare assistance, and CVN Telehealth.
Of course, the report also focuses on veterans receiving care, and CVN’s community-based model corresponds nicely to the ideal scenario. Our Cohen Clinic partner organizations are ingrained in their local communities, serve as leaders in their areas, and initiate a variety of support activities to help connect clients to opportunities beyond those offered at the clinic. According to the report, “this community participation model feels helpful to many veterans and can serve as an entry way for more formal treatment” (p. 25).
The Cohen Veterans Network answers many of the challenges put forward in this comprehensive report, and we will continue to evolve to meet the needs of post-9/11 veterans and their families.
The report also includes many insightful quotes from anonymous veterans around the country, which may represent how some veterans feel about mental health care:
“Normally I call my sis or dad even though they don’t understand. I don’t want to be a burden on my family. I don’t need anyone at my beck and call but it would be nice to have someone to talk with,” veteran, California.
“I’m not saying I need to be coddled. But I could use some help figuring out the next steps,” veteran, Montana.
“I never got a one-on-one counseling, but that’s the one thing I really wanted. I didn’t want to take the medication. I just wanted to talk to someone and unpack it. I was ready to talk about it,” veteran, California.
By Anthony Guido
CVN Vice President, Communications & Marketing