A Big New Push on Veterans’ Mental Health

Odd, isn’t it, that in this era of heightened awareness of a variety of mental health issues—from the ones that lead to massacres like Sandy Hook and Fort Hood to the ones that simply add stress and strife to families’ lives all around the country—there isn’t a lot more support for veterans’ mental health?

Veterans can face a thicket of interlocking challenges: war injuries, mental health problems, and substance abuse—not to mention life's usual difficulties of finding a job and a place to life. And when they do seek help, veterans can find themselves bouncing around different providers across town. Further complications can arise when an array of disparate professionals converge on one case without really communicating with each other. 

Sounds like a hot mess, right? 

Fortunately, the Wounded Warrior Project has announced a three-year $100 million effort to connect wounded veterans and their families with individualized mental health care. That means support and care custom-tailored to each individual’s specific needs. The Warrior Care Network (WCN) will be especially focused on providing high-quality care for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) — two of the most commonly experienced injuries among veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. WCN will be partnering with a variety of organizations, including Operation Mend at the University of California, Los Angeles; the Emory Healthcare Veterans Program at Emory University in Atlanta; the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital's Home Base program; and the Road Home Program at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

Intensive outpatient treatment programs will integrate behavioral health care, rehabilitative medicine, wellness, nutrition, mindfulness training, and family support, in order to create a safe, supportive environment in which each veteran can resume civilian life.

"The invisible wounds that our injured warriors struggle with every day have devastating long-term consequences on their health, yet too often they have difficulty seeking and getting timely and effective care for these conditions," said WWP chief program officer Jeremy Chwat. "We envision and seek to create a world where warriors who live with PTSD and TBI have access to the timely and quality care they need to recover, heal, and move forward with their lives."