Increasing Health Care Providers’ Readiness and Ability to Serve Returning Veterans
December 13, 2017
New York has a growing population of post-9/11 veterans, many of whom are enrolled in institutions of higher learning.
College campuses nationwide are experiencing an increase in student veterans, military service members, and dependent enrollment as a result of the high number of troops returning from deployment and enhanced G.I. Bill educational benefits. However, adjusting to academic structures and schedules; balancing family, work, and school; and managing medical conditions can make the transition to life as a college student especially challenging for individuals with military experience. Fear of the consequences of reporting mental health and physical health concerns may inhibit student veterans from seeking out needed services. Moreover, most student health centers are ill-equipped to meet the unique needs of veterans. In 2017, NYSHealth awarded the SUNY New Paltz Foundation a grant to adapt a veteran and military competency curriculum and deliver trainings to critical groups of campus staff at SUNY campuses.
Under this grant, SUNY New Paltz selected 15 SUNY campuses based on their percentages of student veterans and existence of health and wellness centers on campus. It adapted the Star Behavioral Health Providers (SBHP) curriculum for university health and wellness professionals to address the unique needs of returning veterans. Participants of the SBHP training program demonstrated a greater understanding of military culture, deployment cycle stressors, combat-related conditions, and effective evidence-based treatments for behavioral health problems. SUNY New Paltz conducted in-person training workshops with approximately 210 staff at 15 SUNY campuses across the State. These trainings were given to health and wellness professionals on school campuses, as well as other student affairs professionals who interact frequently with student veterans. The program was evaluated by administering a pre- and post-training survey to participants to assess learning outcomes, perceived confidence, and self-efficacy in working with veteran and military-affiliated students. Last, SUNY New Paltz prepared a final report detailing lessons learned and best practices for developing and implementing the training program along with results from the evaluation.