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Organizations prepare for veterans returning at end of year

November 18, 2011
by News release
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Washington, D.C. — With approximately 39,000 U.S. troops slated to leave Iraq by the end of December 2011, behavioral health and primary care professionals are preparing to meet Veterans' needs by participating in a new program, "Serving Our Veterans Behavioral Health Certificate," to learn how to provide culturally sensitive and clinically competent care for Veterans and their families as they transition back to civilian life.

In a notable partnership, the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare has joined with the U.S. Department of Defense Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP) at the Uniformed Services University and Essential Learning to launch this new professional education program. Based on the latest evidence and clinical practice guidelines, the program will inform civilian providers about military culture and the behavioral health challenges that may result from combat or deployment.

"Reintegrating back into a family and community can be a difficult transition for some Veterans," said Linda Rosenberg, MSW, president and CEO of the National Council. "Nearly 40 percent of those deployed to combat operations since 2001 are 'citizen soldiers' who served in the National Guard and Reserves and rely on civilian healthcare providers to be informed about their unique needs as they return to communities without a military base or Veterans Affairs facility.

While behavioral health and primary care providers are trained to provide treatment for numerous psychological and physical health problems, many need to learn more about the impact of combat and deployment on Veterans and their families. The self-paced, 14-course, online curriculum offers 20+ continuing education hours for professionals for $350. Providers who complete the certificate program will gain applicable knowledge and evidence-based skills to ensure their services for Veterans and their families are culturally sensitive and clinically competent.

Mental health problems have caused more hospitalizations among U.S. troops in 2009 than any other reason. There is an increased risk of psychological and physical health problems among Veterans due to longer and multiple deployment assignments. Many Veterans return home with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, traumatic brain injury and addictions and far too many die from suicide. Despite this fact, only about half of service members who need help for behavioral health problems seek it, and only half of those who seek help receive adequate care.

The new program was introduced at a national webinar hosted by the National Council, CDP and Essential Learning on Thursday, November 10. Speakers discussed the expanding role of civilian providers to respond to the needs of Veterans and their families in communities nationwide and how this curriculum prepares civilian providers to be culturally sensitive and clinically competent when caring for Veterans and their families.

Visit www.thenationalcouncil.org/veterans to watch the archived webinar and receive additional information about the Serving Our Veterans Behavioral Health Certificate program including information about upcoming free Webinars.

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