The Hippo

HOME| ADVERTISING| CONTACT US|

 
Jul 21, 2018







NEWS & FEATURES

POLITICAL

FOOD & DRINK

ARTS

MUSIC & NIGHTLIFE

POP CULTURE



BEST OF
CLASSIFIEDS
ADVERTISING
CONTACT US
PAST ISSUES
ABOUT US
MOBILE UPDATES
LIST MY CALENDAR ITEM


Veteran mental health
Military liaison initiative makes big changes

04/06/17
By Ryan Lessard news@hippopress.com



 A statewide project has expanded access to mental health care for veterans by having a military liaison in each of the state’s 10 community mental health centers. 

The liaisons, which can be anyone from a counselor to a human resources person, train staff who work directly with active and former military personnel to make sure they’re getting the help they need, create systems for tracking veterans and make sure their health center covers military veterans.
When the Military Liaison Initiative launched in August 2015, each community mental health center, like Riverbend in Concord and the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester, selected one of its staffers to be identified as a military liaison.
Jessica Bitetto is a counselor at Riverbend and a military liaison. While she is not a veteran herself, helping veterans is important to her personally because her father is a Vietnam War veteran.
Bitetto said a large part of her work is training other counselors and frontline staff on how to interact with military-connected clientele. She partners with Susan Brown, the statewide military liaison, to provide webinars and other training sessions on military cultural competence.
Jo Moncher, the bureau chief of Military Programs at the state Department of Health and Human Services, said the initiative trained 1,600 staff over 2,600 training hours.
Moncher said the Military Liaison Initiative is the first of its kind in the nation, and it has three key approaches to expanding access and quality of mental health care. 
The first approach is collecting more data on veteran interaction with healthcare providers by getting more facilities to keep track during intake. The second part is military culture training, and the third is creating more civilian-military partnerships.
Bitetto said it all starts with keeping track of which of their patients are currently or formerly in the military.
“We can’t provide military culturally-competent treatment if we aren’t identifying who is military-connected here,” Bitetto said.
Bitetto worked with Riverbend’s IT experts and others to make sure their electronic records systems took note of veteran clients and prompted staff to ask if the patient had ever served. 
Moncher believes this not only helps to broaden our knowledge of the scope of military mental health needs in the state, but just asking the question may start to chip away at some of the stigma and barriers to care veterans suffer from.
“One of the ways to address stigma is through education and understanding and just having conversations with people. That’s huge,” Moncher said.
In the past, Moncher said there have been stories of veterans with TBI at the emergency room getting diagnosed with migraines because clinicians there didn’t think to ask if they were in the military. 
Moncher presented some of the successes of the program to a study commission on March 16. She said one of the greatest improvements to expanding access to care is how the community mental health centers, through the guidance of the liaisons, began to enroll in TriCare, a Department of Defense program that provides civilian health benefits for veterans, military personnel and their dependents. In the year and a half since the program started, nine centers now offer TriCare, which is up from only two or three.
“And we’re on track for having all 10 of them,” Moncher said.
The Military Liaison Initiative was funded from $2.7 million in federal grants due to run out later this year.





®2018 Hippo Press. site by wedu