In 2008, while exploring the needs of New Yorkers coping with both mental health and substance use disorders at the same time, NYSHealth identified returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans and their families as a high-need population whose concerns were not being met.
Meeting the Needs of Veterans and Their Families
Research supported by NYSHealth documented that New York’s returning veterans and their families would benefit from access to a wider range of resources affecting their health and wellbeing. Nearly half of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan would prefer to receive care and services in their communities, rather than through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) system. Veterans deserve both a strong VA and strong community-based options so that regardless of where veterans get treated, they are getting the best possible care. Outreach to connect veterans and their families with existing services and better coordination between government and community agencies are essential for this generation of veterans.
NYSHealth’s work in this area seeks to underscore that the health and mental health issues returning veterans and their families face are not solely military issues, but public and community health issues that should be addressed by local and national government agencies, community-based organizations, and health funders.
Our goals include:
- Expanding choices and increasing access to comprehensive community-based services for veterans and their families.
- Leveraging federal and private funding opportunities to increase the dollars available for services for returning veterans in New York State.
- Serving as a thought leader, convener, and advocate to improve the health of returning veterans and their families through public policy and awareness strategies.