Veterans bring health and social services together
As the pandemic reveals how intertwined physical, mental and financial well-being are, it becomes clear that health care and social services go hand in hand. This is especially true for populations at risk, whether they are homeless, disabled, mentally ill – or if they are veterans, likely to experience all three.
While 60% of veterans are eligible for care through the Department of Veterans Affairs, less than half use the benefits of VA, according to the global policy think tank, RAND. A veteran himself, Taylor Justice knows firsthand how difficult it is to find and connect with the right resources and the right suppliers. In response, he launched Unite Us, a health and social care network that puts health and social care providers in communication with each other to meet the needs of members of their community.
âPeople seeking help in these communities often don’t know where to start or feel exhausted from filling out mountains of paperwork that brings them back to traumatic experiences,â says Justice, who is co-founder and president of Unite. Us. âWe are therefore investing heavily in understanding what drives needs at the community level and in building a targeted network of resources for everyone. “
Read more: Here’s how employers can help support their veteran population with PTSD
With its coordinated care networks in more than 43 states across the country, Unite Us works to address the housing shortage, food insecurity, unemployment and mental health of veterans as well as at-risk groups in a given community. These networks have made a difference: in the communities it serves, Unite Us claims to have solved 92% of the challenges related to food aid, 74% of the challenges related to employment and 70% of the challenges related to housing.
Employee Benefits News spoke with Justice to take a closer look at what it means to connect health care and social services under one network, and what it could mean for communities across America.
What inspired you to create Unite Us?
When my co-founder and I returned from military service, we saw a profound gap in health and social care services for military personnel and their families returning to civilian life. Before launching Unite Us, we spent hours every day researching online services, filling out paperwork, and making phone calls to help our fellow veterans get the care they needed. Veterans don’t always know where or how to ask for help. Many are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder or other challenges, and it can be incredibly difficult for them to repeatedly share their stories with providers.
We realized there had to be a better way. We launched Unite Us with the goal of breaking down existing silos between health and social service providers.
Read more: How businesses can provide more opportunities for unemployed veterans
How does Unite Us bridge the gap between health and social services?
Through our technology and our coordinated care networks of health and social service providers. With Unite Us, providers across industries can send and receive secure electronic referrals, track each person’s health journey, and report tangible results across a full range of services in a centralized, collaborative ecosystem. Our team also works to build authentic and lasting partnerships with local organizations. This social infrastructure helps communities transform their ability to work together and measure impact.
For example, Monica – who volunteers with Operation Troop Appreciation in Pittsburgh, PA – was contacted by a sheriff who had been called to the home of a local veteran named Dave. Dave had recently returned from Iraq and was struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder. When Monica got the call regarding Dave, she knew exactly what to do.
She took all of the sheriff’s information and contacted Dave to create a Unite Us profile with his consent. Within days, Dave had been connected to several agencies for the medical care he needed, such as basic family needs, housing assistance and a year of transportation since Operation Troop Appreciation, so that ‘he no longer had to walk 10 miles each day to get to and from his college program. Through a network of coordinated care, Monica was able to follow Dave’s journey and ensure he received all the services he needed. Five years later, Dave has graduated from college and is working full time with all the necessary supports in place to ensure his continued success.
Why is there a gap between health care and social services first?
Our health and social care delivery system is fragmented and social care is not at the same level of priority as health care. Before Unite Us, organizations lacked a coordinated way to provide streamlined access to essential health and social services such as employment and housing. More importantly, they had no way of systematically monitoring what was happening to their customers.
Read more: Amazon program helps military spouses settle into new jobs
Yet there is no silver bullet to begin to bridge the gap between health and social services. It requires a long-term vision for transformative service delivery. Not only do we need to implement a core infrastructure that connects providers in a collaborative ecosystem, but we also need better access to standard data to track service gaps and outcome trends, as well as tools. that help Care Navigators register clients for services. Equally important, we need to reallocate funding and investments to communities.
What should employers and civilians keep in mind when it comes to supporting veterans?
Community and employer support is essential because veterans deserve a system that doesn’t wait to help until they walk through the door of a health facility. They can help by volunteering with a local organization, like our partners at AmericaServes and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, or simply by sitting down with a veteran and discussing how their needs are. satisfied to help identify gaps in the community. or office. We believe that health happens in the community.