What is the problem that needs to be addressed? Please describe how it is related to mental health.
There are programs for Veterans through the VA that treat PTSD, TBI, etc. However, those who are not honorably discharged do not qualify for these services. In addition, the VA does not treat the family of the veteran and oftentimes the family members do not know how to cope with these challenges. Their family stability is threatened further jeopardizing the veteran’s well being.
Why is this a concern for Orange County? What can Orange County and other counties learn from this project.
Orange County has the third largest population of recently deployed veterans in the state. We have an estimated 150,000 veterans in the county most of who have family members; many are struggling with PTSD and/or TBI. We have discovered with our current Behavioral Health Veterans programs that family members do not understand how to cope and often have been affected by secondary trauma symptoms due to the veteran’s behavior. It is thought that improving family functioning might also have positive impacts on the veteran’s functioning. Providing services to the family unit will reinforce the important advantage family provides in recovering from PTSD and other Behavioral Health issues. Orange County and other counties can learn if providing services to the military-connected family members will increase overall family functioning and communication. We can also learn what specific types of assistance and /or needs Orange County families report and if these are different from what other counties are reporting. This could help guide counties on what resources may be needed in their particular region. Also, are military peer navigators successful when working with family members.
What is currently being done to resolve this problem in our county and throughout the United States? If applicable: Is it working; why or why not?
The Department of Veteran Affairs is tasked with serving the Veteran not the Veteran’s Family, and there isn’t another agency with the knowledge, ability and funding tasked to assist the family members.
What is the project idea? Please describe how this project will operate.
The program will target family members of veterans currently enrolled in OC veterans’ behavioral health programs (especially the Veterans’ Court programs). They will be contacted and offered enrollment in the program. Behavioral health clinicians (who are themselves veterans or military family members) will assess, interview and develop a plan for case management. Core to the program will be the use of military family member peers (MFMP). The family member will be assigned a Military Family Member Peer. Military Family Member Peers will co- lead support groups. They will also provide one on one support and assist with linkages and referrals to community resources.
What is new or different about this project idea? Please describe how this differs from what is already being done. Please list any research that was done on this topic.
The use of Military Family member peers as well as the use of military veteran/family member clinicians. I am unaware of any other behavioral health program that addresses the family issues of veterans who are in court programs, (especially for domestic violence issues) by using military family member peers and a military cultural approach (by using clinicians who are veteran/military family members and veteran geared psych education as well as military aligned assessment tools) to case management. A large search was done via the internet (mainly Google) looking for information regarding treatment for military families, military families and peer support, and statistics involving military families and military children. The Department of Veteran Affairs website was also reviewed to see what services are available to the military family.