VETERANS’ HEALTH

Meet the group making the health of veterans their number one priority.

Aired on November 12, 2018.

TRANSCRIPT

AS WE CONTINUE OUR POST 9/11 VETERAN SERIES, 'FRONTLINE TO HOME FRONT,' WE'RE TAKING A LOOK AT VETERANS HEALTH CARE.

PROVIDING IT IS ONE WAY AMERICANS PAY THEIR DEBT TO THOSE WHO SERVE.

PERHAPS THAT'S WHY STEVEN A.

COHEN WHOSE SON IS IN THE SERVICE DONATED HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO LAUNCH AND SUSTAIN A NATIONWIDE NETWORK OF MILITARY FAMILY CLINICS.

THE GOAL, QUOTE, TO CARE FOR THE VETERAN, THE SPOUSE, AND THE CHILDREN.

BUT WHAT IS THIS NETWORK OFFERING THAT THE VETERANS AFFAIRS HOSPITALS SYSTEM DOESN'T PROVIDE FOR ITS ALMOST 9 MILLION PATIENTS?

THE ANSWER MAY SURPRISE YOU.

RECENTLY RETIRED AIR FORCE COLONEL TRACY KNNEIL WALTON JOI US ALONG WITH HER COLLEAGUE WHO IS THE CLINIC DIRECTOR AT THE STEVEN A. COHEN MILITARY FAMILY CLINIC AT NYU LANGONE.

GREAT TO HAVE YOU.

THANK YOU.

LET'S TALK ABOUT HOW IT GOT STARTED.

HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?

HERE OUR CLINIC GOT ESTABLISHED IN JULY 2012 BECAUSE WE REALLY SAW THE GAP IN SERVICES THAT EXISTED FOR OUR MILITARY FAMILIES AND ALSO A LOT OF VETERANS AS WELL.

AND THEN A COUPLE YEARS LATER, STEVE COHEN JOINED FORCES AND CAME ON BOARD AND REALLY PROVIDED REALLY GENEROUS SUPPORT, CREATED COHEN VETERANS NETWORK AS A WHOLE, AND NOW REALLY LAUNCHED INTO OPENING A NUMBER OF CLINICS, UP TO 25 ACROSS THE NATION.

WE WOULD LIKE TO BELIEVE THAT GIVEN ALL THAT THE VETERANS HAVE DONE FOR US AND ALL THE SERVICE THEY HAVE PROVIDED, THAT THEY WOULD COME BACK HERE AND WHATEVER THEY NEEDED WOULD BE THERE.

YES, THERE'S DEFINITELY A NEED.

AND WE WORK IN COLLABORATION WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE AND THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION TO REALLY COMPLEMENT THE SERVICES THAT THEY PROVIDE, AND PROVIDE SERVICES TO THOSE WHO OTHERWISE WOULDN'T BE ELIGIBLE FOR CARE.

WE SEE VETERANS REGARDLESS OF DISCHARGE STATUS.

SO THERE ARE SOME VETERANS AND FAMILY MEMBERS WHO, THEY MAY NOT BE ELIGIBLE FOR CARE AT THE VA, BUT THEY STILL HAVE A MENTAL HEALTH NEED --

WHY WOULD THAT BE?

WHY WOULD THEY POSSIBLY NOT BE ELIGIBLE?

IT MAY BE BASED ON THE TYPE OF DISCHARGE THAT THEY HAD, OR IF THEY DON'T HAVE A VA DISABILITY, THEN THEY WOULDN'T BE ELIGIBLE FOR CARE.

SO THERE MIGHT NOT BE AN IDENTIFIABLE DISABILITY THERE --

YES.

-- A LABEL PUT ON THEM?

YES.

BUT THEY STILL NEED SOME HELP?

YES.

AND THAT'S VERY COMMON.

IF YOU THINK ABOUT THINGS SUCH AS DEPRESSION AND POSTTRAUMATIC STRESS, THOSE SYMPTOMS OFTEN DON'T APPEAR EARLY ON.

WHAT ABOUT THE FAMILY ASPECT OF THIS?

TALK ABOUT THAT.

THE FREQUENT SEPARATIONS AND COMING TOGETHER, THAT'S A HUGE STRESSOR BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO REBUILD FAMILY RULES AND REINTEGRATE YOURSELF INTO THE FAMILY, FIND THAT CONNECTION AGAIN WITH THE CHILDREN WHO MIGHT BE ALREADY ONE YEAR OLDER, AFTER HAVING MISSED SEVERAL IMPORTANT KIND OF MILESTONES IN THEIR DEVELOPMENT, ANNIVERSARIES AND SO ON.

THAT'S A REALLY HARD ADJUSTMENT ON THE VETERAN, BUT ALSO ON THE RELATIONSHIP, LET'S SAY, WITH THE SPOUSE, BUT ALSO KIDS THEMSELVES.

AND WOULD THOSE ISSUES NOT NECESSARILY BE HANDLED WITHIN THE VA HOSPITAL SYSTEM?

WITHIN THE VA HOSPITAL SYSTEM, THEY'RE THERE TO SERVE THE VETERAN, NOT THE FAMILY.

AND SO WE ACTUALLY PRIDE OURSELVES IN PROVIDING ADDITIONAL SERVICES FOR THE FAMILIES, INCLUDING FAMILY THERAPY, COUPLES THERAPY, AS WELL AS THERAPY FOR CHILDREN WHO MAY BE HAVING DIFFICULTY.

TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THAT TRANSITION IN THE MILITARY.

YOU AND I WERE TALKING A FEW MOMENTS AGO.

YOU RETIRED ABOUT A YEAR AGO.

YES.

BUT YOUR TRANSITION, YOU SAID TO ME, WAS FAIRLY SMOOTH BECAUSE YOU'RE DOING THINGS SIMILAR TO WHAT YOU WERE DOING BEFORE.

YES.

YOU WOULD THINK -- AGAIN, IF YOU HADN'T SERVED IN THE MILITARY, THAT THE NOTION OF TRANSITION WOULD BE, OH, THIS IS GREAT, BUT NOT ALWAYS THE CASE?

THERE ARE SO MANY DIFFERENT THINGS THAT A VETERAN NOW HAS TO TAKE CARE OF COMPLETELY FOR THEM SELF WITHOUT THAT ADDITIONAL SUPPORT.

WHEN YOU'RE IN THE MILITARY, IT'S LIKE AN ADDITIONAL FAMILY AND THEY HELP YOU GET SETTLED WHEN YOU MOVE TO A NEW STATE, HELPING YOU FIND A PLACE TO LIVE.

THE SPOUSES WILL CONNECT AND GET TOGETHER.

THEY'LL HELP YOUR SPOUSE FIND A JOB.

THE KIDS HAVE AUTOMATIC FAMILIES.

BUT THEN WHEN YOU MOVE TO A NEW CITY AND YOU'RE NO LONGER IN THAT MILITARY ENVIRONMENT, YOU HAVE TO NAVIGATE THAT ALL BY YOURSELF.

AND IT CAN BE VERY CHALLENGING.

AS A PSYCHOLOGIST, MY CAREER WAS ABLE TO TRANSLATE PRETTY SMOOTHLY AND I HAD AN EXCELLENT TRANSITION INTO THIS POSITION WHERE I'M ABLE TO CONTINUE TO SERVE.

BUT FOR MANY OF MY, YOU KNOW, COUNTERPARTS IN THE MILITARY WHO DO A DIFFERENT JOB, IT MAY BE FAR MORE CHALLENGING.

SO, IF FOLKS WHO ARE WATCHING AND LISTENING TO OUR CONVERSATION TODAY ARE SAYING TO THEMSELVES, THEY FIND THEMSELVES IN THE SAME SITUATION OR FAMILY MEMBERS OR FRIENDS, AND THEIR QUESTION IS, WELL, HOW DO I GET TO YOU ALL?

THEY CAN GO TO COHEN VETERANS.ORG.

IT'S A WEBSITE WITH A LIST OF CLINICS RIGHT NOW THAT ARE OPEN ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

AND THE SERVICES WE'LL PROVIDE ARE REALLY A WIDE RANGE OF MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES: IT'S INDIVIDUAL THERAPY.

IT'S GOING TO BE AS TRACY SAID, COUPLES AND FAMILY THERAPY, PSYCHIATRIC MEDICATION MANAGEMENT IF THAT'S THE NEED AS WELL.

AND IN ADDITION, WE OFTEN TELEHEALTH.

ONE OF THE THINGS IRENE DIDN'T MENTION.

TELEHEALTH PROVIDES QUALITY CARE, BUT IT ALLOWS FLEXIBILITY FOR OUR CLIENTS.

SO THEY DON'T HAVE TO DEAL WITH TRAFFIC.

I HAD A CLIENT WHO WAS TAKING VACATION TIME IN ORDER TO COME IN TO SEE ME.

AND ONCE I FOUND THAT OUT, WE STARTED DOING TELEHEALTH SO THAT HE COULD USE HIS VACATION FOR VACATION, BUT STILL TAKE CARE OF HIMSELF.

IT'S SUCH IMPORTANT WORK, AND WE ARE ALSO THANK TO ALL OF YOU DOING IT, FOR THE COHEN FAMILY FOR PUTTING THIS ALL TOGETHER.

WE HOPE WE CAN GET THE WORD OUT THERE SO THAT FOLKS WHO NOT ONLY PERHAPS NEED THE ASSISTANCE, BUT DESERVE IT WILL GET IT ALL.

THANK YOU AGAIN FOR THE WORK YOU'RE DOING, FOR SPENDING SOME TIME WITH US.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU.

BE WELL.

AND FOR INFORMATION ON VETERANS HEALTH CARE, MAKE SURE YOU VISIT US AT METROFOCUS.ORG.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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