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DHHS Wants Providers to “Ask the Question” to Better Serve Veterans, Service Members and Their Families
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Concord, NH – What if asking one simple question, “Have you, or a family member, ever served in the military?” could help health and human service providers make a real difference in the life of a service member, veteran, or military family? The “Ask the Question” campaign, an initiative of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and managed by Easter Seals New Hampshire, seeks to do just that.

“Ask the Question” helps providers, including those in healthcare, law enforcement, housing, and education, to better engage service members, veterans, and their families, address challenges associated with military service, and direct individuals and families toward effective resources and benefits for support. The NH Legislative Commission on PTSD and TBI developed the concept following a survey of veterans that identified barriers to military-veteran populations accessing needed care. When asked why they were not getting the help they need, veterans responded that one of the biggest challenges is not feeling understood by the providers who serve them.

“Asking the question is a significant step forward as we recognize the responsibility and opportunity that all of us have in providing care for our military," said Jo Moncher, Bureau Chief of Military Programs for the NH Department of Health and Human Services. “Combined with comprehensive military culture training, these initiatives will strengthen our State's safety net for veterans, service members and their families."

The “Ask the Question” campaign provides an opportunity to educate and engage the civilian sector in understanding our military and better serving this population. Today, the question “Have you ever served?” is not included on the vast majority of health history forms in our State, nor is it routinely included when people access other community programs and services. As a result, veterans can fall through the cracks and miss out on the help they need.

“Service members, veterans, and their families are proud and resilient. They are used to helping others rather than asking for help themselves,” said Easter Seals Director of Military & Veterans Services Daisy Wojewoda. “The first step is encouraging providers to better identify and engage military-veteran patients, clients, and customers by ‘asking the question’. This initiative will address this gap and provide a model for other states to follow.”

Easter Seals will carry out “boots on the ground” outreach and education to a wide range of providers statewide through an inter-agency partnership that includes the Family Resource Center at Gorham and the statewide network of ServiceLink Resource Centers which include Easter Seals, as well as Lakes Region Partnership for Public Health, Tri-County CAP, Belknap-Merrimack CAP, Grafton County Senior Citizens Council, Monadnock Collaborative, Crotched Mountain Community Care, and Community Partners. Dare Mighty Things of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is developing military culture training for civilian providers including four regional conferences aimed at improving access to care within the military community. Part of the DHHS NHCarePath program, the “Ask the Question” campaign illustrates the Department’s effort to standardize and streamline New Hampshire residents’ access to services through a “No Wrong Door” approach.

The Ask the Question Campaign is dedicated to Lt. Col. Stephanie Riley, a former nurse with the NH Air National Guard and a strong advocate and leader for Ask the Question. Lt. Col. Riley died of lung cancer in December of last year, but her message and spirit continue to create positive change within our State.

The campaign, which will run through June 2016, includes a website with the tools necessary for providers to participate at, and a toll-free number—1-844-4ASK-VET—that providers can call to request technical assistance for a specific client or military culture training for staff.

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New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services
129 Pleasant Street | Concord, NH | 03301-3852

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