Common Questions to Better Serve Our Vets

The Bush Institute's Veteran Wellness Alliance has published a first-of-its kind set of recommendations to help nonclinical veteran serving organizations better serve our nation's warriors.

When the Veteran Wellness Alliance was established, the primary goal was to connect more veterans who experience the invisible wounds of war, such as post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury, to high quality health care providers. As we embarked on uniting this network, we came to understand that we, along with our Alliance members, needed better and more comparable data on the veterans served.  

In research, we often have data sets from different sources that we cannot necessarily use together, or they just don’t quite measure the same thing— it’s like “comparing apples to oranges.” This lack of data ultimately impacts how veteran serving organizations are able to optimize programs and care for our customers. 

With this in mind, we recently published recommendations, Common Questions to Better Serve our Vets, that are the result of many months of collaborative work and data collection about our customers – veterans who are engaged in peer organizations. Building from established work from the National Institutes of Health, these recommendations are the first common data elements (CDEs) for non-clinical veteran serving organizations.  

With CDEs, we increase the ability to “compare apples to apples.” Common data elements allow us to speak the same language across a variety of organizations and populations, to enhance quality, sharing, and comparison over time.  

In utilizing these common data elements, we believe that our member organizations, and other organizations that serve veterans will be able to:

  • Better understand the strengths and challenges of the veteran population they serve
  • Empower organizations to communicate their public health impact
  • Highlight attributes of veteran well-being that focus on thriving, providing a holistic view of veteran wellness
  • Generate a comparative data set that VSOs, funders, academic researchers, and clinicians can use as a point of comparison for overall veteran population health 

All participating Veteran Wellness Alliance peer-network organizations have committed to the adoption of the CDEs to the extent feasible in 2020. We are also encouraging all organizations that serve veterans to implement the CDEs, as it will greatly impact our communities’ ability to serve veterans better and increase the likelihood that precious resources will be optimized.