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4: Health Care Professionals

More military families are experiencing higher stress and anxiety levels due to the longevity of the wars and the multiple deployments which are separating families for longer periods of time.

Health care professionals play a critical part in the community safety net providing support for military families. When health professionals have a better understanding of military life, needs, and services available, they can help screen to identify possible issues affecting a child or spouse and refer them to the right resource.

Action Items:

  • Identify military family members. Given that more than 70 percent of military families live outside the gates of a military installation and that many National Guard and Reserve members’ transition from civilian to warriors more frequently, you may be treating a service member’s spouse, child, or sibling without knowing it.  As a first step, ask if the person you’re treating has a family member in the military.
  • Understand the culture. Research done by academic experts and the Department of Defense has concluded that understanding the unique culture of the military is important to offering more effective treatment to military families. There are a number of training curricula and programs available to help familiarize you with the culture so that you can better relate to and understand the needs, concerns, and lifestyles of the people you serve.

 

  • Screen to identify emotional problems. Due to the challenges facing military families, you should seek out training on how to screen families for signs of stress. Screening can help catch emotional problems at an early stage and often prevent more serious illness from occurring. Also, provide a referral for professional help and encourage the families to seek help without delay.
  • Be a source for referral information. There are resources for military families that exist online and in some local communities. You will benefit from having accurate information about where to refer your patients for specific services in your local communities. Contact a local government office for a list of community support available.
  • Join the TRICARE network.

Resources:

Coming Together Around Military Families has a training curriculum for professionals serving military families. It was developed by Zero to Three, a national nonprofit organization that informs, trains, and supports professionals, policymakers and parents in the lives of infants and toddlers. For more information go to www.zerotothree.org/about-us/funded-projects/military-families.

The American Academy of Pediatrics Military Youth Deployment Support Website works to attain optimal physical, mental, and social health and well-being for all military dependent infants, children, adolescents and young adults. Visit www.aap.org/sections/uniformedservices/deployment/index.html for more information.

The American Psychological Association offers training for mental health providers serving military families. To register go to www.apa.org/education/ce/aoa0010.aspx.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, in conjunction with Families Overcoming Under Stress (FOCUS) and the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Services, have developed the Military Families Knowledge Bank which provides information and resources to help military families. To access the Knowledge Bank go to http://mfkb.nctsn.org/cwis/index.php.

The Military Family Research Institute has created a series of informational brochures titled, “How to Help Military Families.” These guides provide practical tips and suggestions for helping your neighbors, friends, and community members who have a military affiliation. Visit www.mfri.purdue.edu/content.asp?tid=6&id=25 to download the brochures.

The Real Warriors Campaign, an initiative of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE), has developed resources for health professionals. To access the materials go to www.realwarriors.net/healthprofessionals.

The Citizens Soldier Support Program (CSSP) has developed training and resources for Health professionals and families. Visit www.citizensoldiersupport.org for more information. To access CSSP’s searchable database of primary and behavioral health care providers who are trained in serving military members and their families go to www.warwithin.org.