212923 Mental health care for veterans: Maximizing available resources and integrating innovative efforts

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 3:10 PM

Thomas J. Berger, PhD , Vietnam Veterans of America, Silver Spring, MD
Suicide amongst our military has reached epidemic proportions. Although the military has attempted to address its increase, much more needs to be done.

This presentation will highlight how suicide is also a problem amongst our aging veteran population.

Addressing disparities between different demographic groups within the veterans' population will be outlined. Recognizing the personal (cultural, financial, perceptions, social) and structural barriers that interfere with healthcare seeking behavior among veterans will be explored.

Veterans and their families need to know that suicide is preventable and help is available. As more and more troops return home damaged from the war, their families must contend with not only the physical desolation of their loved ones, but come to grips with the new emotional and mental reality of their lives which have changed drastically and not necessarily for the better.

Learning Objectives:
- List the disparities between different demographic groups within the veterans’ population. - Explain the personal (cultural, financial, perceptions, social) and structural barriers that interfere with healthcare seeking behavior among veterans.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Senior Analyst for Veterans Benefits & Mental Health Issues with the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) Dr. Tom Berger is a Life Member of Vietnam Veterans of America and currently serves as national chair of VVA’s PTSD and Substance Abuse Committee. As such, he is a member of the Veterans’ Healthcare Administration’s (VHA) Consumer Liaison Council for the Committee on Care of Veterans with Serious Mental Illness. In addition, Dr. Berger holds the distinction of being the first representative of a national veterans’ service organization to hold membership on the Executive Committee of the VHA’s Substance Use Disorder Quality Enhancement Research Initiative. He is also a member of VVA’s Health Care, Government Affairs, and Project 112/SHAD committees. At the local level he serves as Secretary of the Missouri Vietnam Veterans Foundation and as Membership Chair and Assistant Secretary for V.V.A.’s Missouri State Council. Dr. Berger served as a Navy Corpsman with the 3rd Marine Corps Division in Vietnam, 1967-68. Upon completion of his military service and then subsequently after earning his doctoral degree, he held faculty and administrative appointments at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, the State University System of Florida in Tallahassee and the University of Missouri-Columbia, as well as program administrator positions with the Illinois Easter Seal Society and United Cerebral Palsy of Northwest Missouri. His professional publications include books and research articles in the biological sciences, wildlife regulatory law, adolescent risk behaviors, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Dr. Berger now devotes his efforts full-time to veterans’ advocacy at the local, state and national levels on behalf of Vietnam Veterans of America.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.