142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Serving Together: Using Peer Navigators to Enhance Veterans' Health and Well-being

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Monday, November 17, 2014 : 8:50 AM - 9:10 AM

Sally A. Koblinsky, PhD , Department of Family Science, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
Katie Hrapczynski, PhD , Department of Family Science, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
Suzanne Randolph, PhD , Center for Community Prevention and Treatment Research, The MayaTech Corporation, Silver Spring, MD
Stefanie Moreno, LCSW-C , Serving Together, Mental Health Association of Montgomery County, Rockville, MD
Jessica Fuchs, MA, CRC , Serving Together, Mental Health Association of Montgomery County, Rockville, MD
Ernest Spycher, SGT (Ret) , Serving Together, Mental Health Association of Montgomery County, Rockville, MD
In 2011, a County Mental Health Association launched Serving Together to increase culturally-competent healthcare and support for veterans, service members, and their families. Located in a county with 50,000 veterans and 500 wounded warriors, Serving Together provides a local resource website, behavioral health trainings, and a Peer Navigation system. Although Peer Navigators currently serve individuals with HIV, cancer, and mental illness, few community-based programs have engaged Navigators to work exclusively with veterans and we found no published research evaluating their efficacy with this population. This presentation describes key elements of Serving Together’s Peer Navigation system (established in 2013), comparing it to three models in other states, and summarizes outcomes of its first year. The system offers instrumental and social/emotional support by a trained practitioner, himself a veteran who overcame transition challenges. In 9 months, 90 veterans from all war eras contacted the Navigator via email, telephone, or web-messaging. Clients were screened and through face-to-face contact and referrals, were assisted with mental/physical health conditions, homelessness, housing, transportation, and employment support. Approximately 57% of cases were resolved within 2 weeks; others required longer assistance. Ninety-day client follow-ups revealed high satisfaction due to: 1) 24-hour response to initial contact, 2) empathy/support from a fellow veteran, 3) Navigator’s in-depth knowledge of local resources, and 4) personalized referrals to community agencies. Agencies reported increased client attendance at appointments, improved client coping, and successful coordination of resource use from multiple sectors. Given this early success, recommendations are made for additional research and replication by other communities.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Provision of health care to the public
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe how Serving Togetherís Peer Navigation system helps veterans to access needed mental health, physical health, and other support services. Identify key elements of four community-based Peer Navigation systems for veterans in the US. List three reasons why veterans report satisfaction with the guidance and support provided by Serving Togetherís Peer Navigator. Describe two ways community agencies have benefited from Serving Togetherís implementation of the Peer Navigation system.

Keyword(s): Veterans' Health, Community Health Programs

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Evaluator of Serving Together, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant to the Mental Health Association of Montgomery County. I am also Principal Investigator of a Women Veterans Behavioral Health grant and the Maryland Veterans Resilience Initiative, a university-state partnership that provides behavioral health training for health providers who work with veterans and their families, and builds peer support programs for student veterans at Maryland colleges/universities.
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.