• George W. Bush Institute's

    Nonprofit Guide for Post-9/11 Veterans

  • Veteran health care can be concerning. Post-9/11 veterans are eligible for five years of free VA health care post-service. Unfortunately, VA medical care does not cover every facet of wellness for every veteran, so many nonprofit organizations fill the gaps. Veteran health and wellness serves as the foundation from which other positive outcomes can be built, such as employment success, educational achievement and positive relationships with others. Let this be the first step to managing personal care.

How to navigate Health & Wellness services

Clinical Care (General Health)

While the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) operates a broad network of hospital and outpatient clinics across the country, veterans sometimes decide to seek care outside of the VA system.  Additionally, the VA does not serve family members, leaving a gap where there is critical need.

At some of the leading hospitals around the country, privately-funded, nonprofit medical clinics have been founded to augment the VA’s system of care. These clinics are often conducting some of the leading research in PTS and TBI, employing cutting-edge techniques to treat these conditions.

Questions To Ask When Selecting Your Nonprofit

  • What kind of services does your clinic provide? What makes your program different than the VA? Different than the DoD?
  • Do you employ Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW), Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHC), licensed psychiatrists or psychologists?
  • Given my characteristics (post-9/11, combat veteran or not, PTS symptoms or not, etc.), what services might I qualify for at your facility?
  • Is there a cost associated with treatment?
  • Can you walk through a typical healthcare treatment program? How long does it last? Is there a plan for continued care? What is the pharmacology (prescription medication) plan?
  • Does your clinic conduct research that is linked to the treatment that you provide? Are you studying post-9/11 veterans?
    • Can you tell me about clinical trials I may be eligible for at your clinic or at other clinics? (Note: This indicates that the clinic is working to find the best treatments and changing its treatments in response to lessons it learns from research.)
    • If so, are those studies funded from the federal government — e.g., DoD, VA, or another federal healthcare agency? (Note: This indicates highly-valued research and a highly-regarded institution.)
    • What are the studies you’ve conducted in the past? Were there any published papers? What were the results? How do you measure the success of the programs? Do you have testimonials from past participants?
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Non-clinical PTS/Mental Health Programs

In addition to clinical treatments for physical and mental health, newer organizations emerged after 9/11 and touted alternative therapies such as yoga, art therapies, peer discussion groups, and animal-assisted therapies just to name a few. While these programs may demonstrate positive impacts, veterans should understand that their clinical value in treating PTS and other challenges has not been validated.  

Questions To Ask When Selecting Your Nonprofit

  • Could you explain your program’s methods?
  • Do you employ Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW), Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHC), licensed psychiatrists, or psychologists as staff members or leaders of the program?
  • Does your program require insurance or out-of-pocket funding, or is it free-of-charge?
  • Has any research been done to validate the methods and outcomes of your program?
  • What are the potential negative side effects to participation in your program?
  • How do you measure the success of the programs? Do you have testimonials from past participants?
  • Is your program connected to the VA or DoD medical systems? (Note: this indicates that the program has been vetted and approved as a legitimately beneficial resource for service members and veterans).
  • If so, what are your information-sharing policies and/or requirements with the VA or DoD medical systems? How is my privacy protected?
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Women Veterans

Research suggests that women veterans are (on average) less likely to seek services from veteran-service providers because they often do not feel welcome and, at times, do not feel safe among the broader male veteran population. At one end of the spectrum, this is driven by high rates of military sexual trauma and unwanted male attention, and at the other end of the spectrum, it can be driven by organizations simply being blind to the value of their services to women veterans and, therefore, the need to market to this population. The best veteran-serving organizations will ensure that they are providing a safe, inclusive environment for women veterans. At times, this means women-specific programming, with women-only locations and only women staff members.

Questions To Ask When Selecting Your Nonprofit

  • How does your organization incorporate women veterans into the population it serves?
  • How large is the group of women that you serve? Are they an extreme minority within your service population?
  • Among the women you serve, do you feel that the women are individuals, or do you feel that you have a community of women who work together, supporting one another through their journey?
  • How does your organization accommodate the unique needs of women veterans? Do you have women veterans on your staff of service-providers? If yes, how many? Do you have female-only facilities? Do you provide childcare services on-site? If not, do you provide vouchers so that I can seek child care services elsewhere?
  • What are your policies and procedures in place to protect the rights and privacy of those receiving services?
  • Are there any programs you offer that female veterans are not eligible for?
  • Do you have staff members that are trained in MST, PTSD, homelessness, substance abuse or “best-in-class” partners that provide any of these services?
  • Could I speak with a female veteran who has utilized your services?
  • How do you advertise your programming and services to female veterans?
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