4105.0 ATOD Late Breaker Session: Improving Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services to Returning Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan: Dialogue Between Returning Veterans and Service Providers and Other Health Professionals

Tuesday, November 6, 2007: 12:30 PM
Recent research indicates there is significant risk of mental health problems among soldiers who have served in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet, a paucity of the returning veterans have sought and received needed mental health services. This session is designed as a dialogue between health professionals and returning veterans to identify barriers to seeking and receiving the needed mental health and substance abuse services and to provide guidance to improve service access and delivery for veterans and their families. Community health and primary care providers can benefit from awareness of aspects of the military culture that may facilitate and those that may hinder recovery. Returning veterans can benefit from evidence that recovery is not only necessary but possible with early intervention and peer support. While the estimates vary, documentation is increasing of significant levels of traumatic brain injury, post traumatic stress disorder, depression, suicide attempts, and self medication with alcohol and drugs among veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. These needs for mental health and substance abuse treatment coupled with low rates of seeking appropriate care are impacting significant numbers of veterans, especially young men and women and their families. Because PTSD has been correlated with physical health problems among these returning veterans, the delivery and effectiveness of medical services is also impacted. Early detection, intervention, and peer support are important to prevent chronic mental illness, disability, and family disruption.
Session Objectives: 1. List 5 factors which differentiate the current Iraq/Afghanistan military experience from prior wars and have implications for the current health system. 2. Recognize how the military experience and culture impacts the returning veterans’ need for and willingness to access the mental health treatment system. 3. Describe the special mental health needs of veterans’ family members, especially children. 4. Discuss approaches to increase mental health and substance abuse treatment access and retention for returning veterans and their families. 5. Identify the role of private and community health providers in meeting the needs of returning veterans and their families. 6. Assess the value of primary and other health providers identifying the veteran status of their patients. 7. Identify several veteran service organizations that help returning veterans and their families meet their health needs in general and mental health needs in particular. 8. Identify Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and other programs and resources available to respond to suicide risk, help military families cope with trauma, and provide evidence based mental health and substance abuse interventions and treatment.
Aundrey J. Sanchez, Sgt US Army , Jason Ridolfi, Sgt Marine Corps , Joy Schlotterbeck, Army Reserves , A. Kathryn Power, MEd and H. Westley Clark, MD, JD, MPH

12:35 PM
Impact of Iraq on a Soldier and His Family
Aundrey J. Sanchez, Sgt US Army
12:50 PM
1:05 PM
1:20 PM

See individual abstracts for presenting author's disclosure statement and author's information.

Organized by: Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs
Endorsed by: Vietnam Caucus, Women's Caucus, Socialist Caucus, Mental Health, Latino Caucus, Medical Care, Disability, Black Caucus of Health Workers, Asian Pacific Islander Caucus of APHA, American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Caucus