Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pennsylvania plan to help returning rural veterans

A new report from the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire reveals that veterans with service-related disabilities are more concentrated in the rural places and the South, the nation's most rural region. "The concentration of disabled veterans in the South and rural America is largely because veterans represent a higher percentage of the total population in these places, although there are also some differences in the rate of disability among veterans," report author Beth Mattingly, who is Carsey director of research on vulnerable families, said in a news release. (Read more)

Rural veterans are less likely to seek psychiatric and other mental health services due to difficulty diagnosing those problems and distance from Veterans Health Administration facilities. Many of these veterans turn to family doctors when non-specific combat-stress related symptoms appear months or years after deployment. To help combat that problem Pennsylvania Geisinger Health System has recently launched the Reaching Rural Veterans Initiative (RRVI).

The initiative seeks to assess local healthcare teams' understanding of the diagnosis and treatment of combat-related issues and develop an education program specifically designed to help the healthcare team identify and treat those issues. A select number of sites will also receive telepsychiatry services. The program is funded in part by a $375,000 grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The state ranks third in the nation in military personnel and deployed National Guard troops, GHS writes in a news release. More than 21,000 Pennsylvania service members have been deployed since Sept. 11, 2001. Geisinger Health System, founded in 1915, is one of the nations' largest integrated health services organizations. (Read more)

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