VA’s National Center for Healthcare Advancement and Partnerships (HAP) is committed to promoting health equity for Veterans by addressing social determinants of health (SDOH)— the social and economic conditions in the environment where individuals live, learn, work, play, worship and age.
Many Veterans face challenges such as housing instability, food insecurity, mental health challenges, limited access to health care and lack of social support that can contribute to poor health outcomes. Health equity refers to the notion that every individual should have equal opportunity to achieve optimal health, regardless of race, ethnicity, income, education or other social and demographic factors. Through strategic partnerships, VA works to address the root cause of disparities and improve health outcomes of Veterans and their families.
“By collaborating with community organizations, we are able to leverage the strengths and resources of VA and community partners, and create sustainable solutions that improve the health and well-being of Veterans and their families,” said Heather Luper, HAP social worker.
The VHA National Food Security Office is committed to ensuring all Veterans have equitable access to nutritious, affordable and culturally appropriate food. Food insecurity and hunger are associated with poor physical and mental health, including chronic disease and depression. Veterans who experience food insecurity may be at a higher risk for health issues.
VA collaborates with MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger (MAZON) to increase awareness about Veterans’ food insecurity and federal programs supporting Veterans facing hunger. The partnership aims to provide nutrition education to Veterans and works with community organizations to improve enrollment to programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
“We are deeply concerned that many of America’s Veterans struggle with food insecurity and do not receive the assistance they deserve from federal assistance programs like SNAP,” said Abby J. Leibman, president and chief executive officer of MAZON. “Enrolling eligible Veterans in programs like SNAP helps prevent costly diet-related chronic health conditions and heads off a cycle of economic hardship that can lead to a downward spiral for Veterans sometimes tragically resulting in homelessness and even death by suicide.
“We are proud to partner with VA to understand the unique needs and barriers to food security facing the men and women who served our country. Together, we can ensure all Veterans can feed themselves and their families.”
Mental health support
VA provides mental health resources for Veterans struggling with posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, grief, anxiety, the psychological effects of military sexual trauma and more, regardless of discharge status, service history or VA care eligibility. VA partners with organizations to offer Veterans and their families mental health support to increase treatment options and mental health service access.
VA’s collaboration with Americans for the Arts (AFTA) increases access to therapeutic benefits of the arts. The VA-AFTA partnership helps to ensure Veterans, their families and caregivers recognize the healing aspect of the arts, opening avenues for personal expression through activities such as music, dance, visual arts and writing. Through Whole Health approaches, Veterans are empowered to take an active role in their well-being by combining creative arts therapies into their care plans.
Additionally, VA partners with Pet Partners to bring Veterans the benefits of the human-animal bond (HAB). The HAB is a mutually beneficial relationship that promotes health and well-being for both the human and the animal. Pet Partners’ therapy animal teams help to create meaningful interactions for Veterans, reducing anxiety and providing opportunities to increase connection and well-being. These animal interactions have a positive impact and support Veterans coping with physical or mental challenges.
Employment and education support
VA is dedicated to supporting Veterans and their families by providing employment resources to ensure economic security and well-being.
The VHA and Daniel and Salvador Montoya Heroes Foundation (Heroes Foundation) partnership collaborates with Veteran friendly companies to match Veterans, transitioning service members and their spouses with careers that engage and embrace them. This partnership hosts Veteran hiring events nationwide and helps equip employers to hire Veterans.
Heroes Foundation partners with VA to create “Veteran-Ready” companies by developing Veteran inclusive programs within a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion framework. This supports recruitment strategies and aligns organizations with military/Veteran communities.
The VA and Salesforce partnership provides service members, Veterans and military spouses the support they need for a successful tech career. Since 2014, Salesforce Military has reskilled and upskilled more than 30,000 individuals on Trailhead Military, a hands-on learning platform. The Hiring Our Heroes Salesforce Fellowship, a 12-week paid program, offers hands-on tech experience from certified Salesforce professionals.
“Partnering with the community enables VA to join forces in addressing social determinants of health to support all Veterans,” said Chien Chen, HAP chief officer and nurse executive. “Together, we can better alleviate the root causes of health disparities and forge a path toward health equity for Veterans and their families.”
HAP facilitates partnerships that deliver quality resources, care and accessible services, and it aims to support Veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors with quality health care. Get more information about HAP.