SAN ANTONIO, April 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Only 37% of military families live on a military installation, the rest are living in over 4,000 communities nationwide. This means many service members are reintegrating into cities and towns a great distance from a military installation, limiting access to the transition services they need.
A December 2011 study from the Pew Research Center reported that 44% of returning Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) veterans surveyed said re-entry into civilian life was difficult for them. As these post 9/11 veterans transition back to life at home, healing from physical and behavioral wounds, and addressing legal, spiritual and financial concerns, they and their families will first seek services and support in the communities where they reside.
With such a significant responsibility beholden to thousands of American communities, it is critical that civilian sector leaders in the public, private and non-profit sectors educate themselves on the military families in their state. Questions such as how many veterans are living here, what are their readjustment needs, what programs already exist and what is working in other communities should be at the forefront of their discussions.
Addressing Readjustment Needs
Army OneSource, a Secretary of the Army Initiative, is working to assist state and organizational leaders answer these very questions. Through a specially designed website, www.aosresourcecenter.com, Army OneSource is creating opportunities for state level systems, military leadership and support organizations to collaborate, learn from each other, and identify best practices for addressing the readjustment needs of military families. The site also houses a wealth of information for each state including deployments by county and the estimated prevalence of major issues such as PTSD, TBI, Suicidal Ideation and unemployment.
"This information comes at a critical time in planning for the care of the millions of service members who have defended our country since 9/11. The Army recognizes that there is a wealth of resources currently available in our communities – but with a lack of understanding of military culture and service member needs, they often go underutilized by military families. At the resource center, we hope to educate leaders on the military population living in their state, what services they need most, and provide a way for leaders across the nation to work in a synchronized method to capitalize on and proliferate the programs and services that are most successful." notes Shaunya Murrill, Chief of Outreach & Strategic Integration, IMCOM, G9, Family and MWR Programs and Director of the Army OneSource Initiative.
Membership to the AOS Resource Center is free and open to AOS Alliance members, their agencies and organizations and all state and local leaders working to assist those who have served.
Training for Health Professionals
A recent report by the Institute of Medicine cited the shortage of health-care professionals, especially those specializing in mental health, to meet the demands of returning OEF/OIF veterans. The AOS Resource Center is working to address this issue by providing healthcare professionals with free access to training on military culture, PTSD, and the impact of deployment and combat stress on families. Increasing the number of health professionals who understand military culture and the mental health and other readjustment needs of veterans can help relieve the large caseloads, high rates of burnout, and turnover that is being seen among psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and other mental health professionals currently serving the military and veteran communities. Behavioral Health and Social Services organizations can partner with Army OneSource to offer their members this training, which qualifies for continuing education credit, free of charge.
Promising Practices and What's Working
The AOS Resource Center dedicates a section of content to practices that have both a track record of use and results that show promise of bringing more impact if used in more locations. Site members can learn about issues facing individual states along with the steps they are taking to address the issues and the impact they have seen. One example comes from Indiana. In 2011, the state reported the unemployment rate among OEF/OIF veterans in Indiana as high as 23.6%. As a result, the Indiana State Veterans Employment Executive Steering Committee was developed and has since hosted 12 job fairs over the past two years. The job fairs successfully connected more than 7,000 Service members to over 200 employers all of which had open positions available to qualified veterans.
About Army OneSource: Army OneSource (AOS) is a Secretary of the Army initiative designed to ensure Soldiers and their Families have access to standardized support programs and services regardless of component or geographic location. AOS utilizes a multi-pronged approach which includes traditional establishments on installations, a Web-based information portal and partnerships with community service providers to connect Service members, living on or near an installation and the geographically dispersed, with the services and support they need most.
SOURCE Army OneSource