Full Court Press — The VHA Way



Wade Habshey, Healthcare Recruitment Marketing Liaison

As a volunteer at the St. Jude’s Community Center’s Homeless Veteran Outreach program in New Orleans, Louisiana, I am amazed each day how Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can affect our Veterans differently. For some, the symptoms of depression, hopelessness, alcoholism and drug use or even suicide are immediate. In others, it can be a delayed reaction, where the Veteran may give the appearance of being in complete control of his or her life, only to resort to those most unwanted, worse-case scenarios mentioned above. My father, a Veteran of the Korean War, referred to this condition affecting his comrades as “wounds unseen.” He saw my friends and I, who reported for duty in the Far East in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and the sons, daughters and family members of all our conflicts, deal with “wounds unseen.”

“It’s going to take a full court press from government and from every community in the country to bring our Veterans back home,” my father would often tell me.

On Veterans Day, 2013, I had the opportunity to listen to two members of our Veteran family who lead VA’s full court press efforts to provide the very best health care for our Veterans suffering from those “wounds unseen.” Dr. Mary Schohn, head of Mental Health Operations and Michael Culpepper, Chief Officer of Workforce Management and Consulting with the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) were featured on WFED Radio – Federal News Radio to discuss how VHA is meeting existing and future demands of health care services in a collaborative team environment.

Having played an important role in the highly successful Mental Health Hiring Initiative last year, Dr. Schohn spoke with WFED Radio about best practices in VHA in maintaining and improving the mental health and well-being of today’s Veterans through excellence in health care, social services, education, and research.

“We learned a lot in terms of how to improve our treatment,” said Dr. Schohn. “We’ve moved to evidence based psychotherapy so these treatments are very effective, they work and people get better.” Schohn also discussed how VHA is using technology to provide care through their mobile phones and mobile apps that can be used in conjunction with treatment and tele-mental health care to provide mental health services. Reaching the Veteran first is now a reality.

Culpepper provided some insight to the VHA recruitment selection process for mental health service providers. “As part of our selection process, we’re not just looking to make sure we have people who have correct credentials and correct privileges, but we also in our interview process, are making sure we have folks who are actually going to provide the best overall care.”

Culpepper added that VHA is always looking for health care talent and recommended that interested health care professionals should go to VAcareers.VA.gov to actually see what opportunities VHA has available.

As the radio interview came to a close, I could hear my late father’s prediction, “It’s going to take a full court press from government and from every community in the country to truly bring our Veteran back home.” The proactive approach of VHA, in treating and maintaining the mental health of America’s veterans, is indeed a commendable service to our Heroes. And equally commendable is the invitation VHA is extending to health care professionals to join in that service to Veterans…and to America. You can join us in extending that invitation to serve by asking your friends and acquaintances in the mental health care community to visit VAcareers.VA.gov.

Listen to the audio recording of the program here.

Author

Wade Habshey