November 12, 2014
Science Daily/RAND Corporation
Policymakers have expanded military veterans' access to community-based health providers as a way to meet demands, given capacity constraints in the VA health system. But a new study finds that most community-based mental health providers are not well prepared to take care of the special needs of military veterans and their families.
"Our findings suggest that community-based mental health providers are not as well prepared as they need to be to address the needs of veterans and their families," said Terri Tanielian, the study's lead author and a senior social research analyst at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "There is a need for increased training among community-based providers in high quality treatment techniques for PTSD and other disorders that are more common among veterans."
"Veterans and their family members face unique challenges, and addressing their needs requires understanding military culture as well as their mental health challenges," said retired Navy Vice Adm. Norb Ryan, president of the Military Officers Association of America. "It's crucial that our civilian mental health providers acquire the training and perspective they need to guide their practice in the care of our military and veteran population."
The study recommends that organizations that maintain registries or provider networks include information about mental health practitioners' ability to properly treat the special needs of military and veteran populations.