In or out of uniform, many service members return home to communities where they continue to lead and contribute. For some military personnel, returning home can be challenging. And the impact of deployment and trauma-related stress not only affects military members and veterans but also their families and others who may provide support.
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Living in a rural area, for all its benefits, can come with some specific challenges. An important one can be access to services such as health care. This can be especially true for specialty services like behavioral health care. Serving those with unique health care needs requires new approaches when large specialty health care providers are far from home. For rural veterans, this means improving access to quality care.
There are many studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of peer support. For example, research has demonstrated that peer support helps improve the mental health of veterans, makes people reduces hospital visits for those with co-occurring disorders, and increases coping skills of families with a family member who has a mental illness. Because of studies like these, SAMHSA, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and over 40 states consider peer and family support an evidence-based practice.
Beyond the numbers, stories from real people who have had their lives changed for the better show how critical it can be. Here’s what one man in recovery named Jeff had to say:
The Departments of Veterans Affairs, Defense, and Health and Human Services are working hard every day to implement the President’s August 31, 2012, Executive Order by removing barriers, improving access and investing in research to improve the science and understanding of mental health care and treatment for Veterans, service members and their families.