United Health Foundation Partnership with New Jersey Hospital Association Helping Veterans and Service Members Navigate Health Services to Improve Access to Care

  • Veteran Navigators hired through $1.35 million partnership grant
    are helping connect veterans, service members and their families to
    health services and programs in communities throughout New Jersey
  • Forum brings together care providers and military leaders to
    raise awareness about managing the complexity of veteran health

PRINCETON, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The New Jersey Hospital Association (NJHA) and United Health Foundation
brought together health professionals and military leaders today to
raise awareness about the complexities of managing veterans’ health and
examine ways to improve access to care through innovative partnerships
and community engagement.

The forum, “Managing the Complexity of Veteran Health: Serving
Those Who Have Served,”
highlighted a $1.35 million partnership
between NJHA’s Health Research and Educational Trust (HRET) and United
Health Foundation to bolster veteran health programs, including the
hiring of additional Veteran Navigators to facilitate access to
high-quality, community-based mental health, behavioral health and
supportive services for veterans and military families in underserved
areas of the state.

“Veterans and military families face unique health needs, and it is
often a challenge for them to access the care and programs that help
ensure they receive quality care,” said Betsy Ryan, president and CEO of
the New Jersey Hospital Association. “This partnership with United
Health Foundation is providing valuable resources that are helping raise
awareness and improving the health and wellness of our veterans and
service members.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, military service members
and veterans face health issues differently than civilians. The
stressors of being in combat, combined with being separated from family,
can put service members and veterans at risk for mental health problems.
These include anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance
abuse and depression that, in extreme circumstances, can lead to
suicide. According to a
study commissioned
by the Military Officers Association of America
(MOAA) and United Health Foundation, there is a preparedness gap among
most community-based mental health providers in being able to take care
of the special needs of military veterans and their families.

Through its partnership with United Health Foundation, NJHA is using a
peer-to-peer model with Veteran Navigators to connect with their fellow
service members to facilitate access to the care that veterans and their
families need.

“The work of NJHA is improving access to care for veterans and military
members,” said New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. “NJHA’s partnership
with United Health Foundation is the type of public-private approach
that will make a difference in the lives of our neighbors, particularly
those with the greatest needs.”

“Helping veterans and their families with support to improve their
quality of life is mission critical,” said Michael Cunniff, Adjutant
General, New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “Our
service members, veterans and their families often face unique
challenges to care including having access to care providers who
understand their specific needs. By raising awareness and having
veterans engage directly with service members and their families, we are
helping improve their personal health and recovery.”

During the forum, guest speakers discussed important health topics
facing veterans and military service members including military culture,
injury and recovery programs, PTSD, suicide prevention and navigating
the VA system, among others. NJHA provided an overview and update on how
the organization is working collaboratively with other partners in the
state to implement a comprehensive model to close the gap between care
providers and veterans through efforts that increase awareness of
available support, and improve skills of mental health professionals in
addressing veteran-specific issues and needs.

U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur (NJ-3) praised the work on behalf of veterans
and service members. “I applaud the work of all of the organizations
gathered today for this important forum that is raising awareness about
improving care for our veterans and service members who have sacrificed
so much for our nation. Our freedom endures because of the men and women
in uniform who defend it. As they come home, we must serve them as well
as they’ve served us, and connect our troops with the programs and care
they need.”

The Veteran Navigators, along with the entire project team at NJHA, are
being cross-trained in Mental Health First Aid, Health Coaching and
supplemental topics with an opportunity to become Certified Prevention
Specialists to help meet the unique needs of military service members
and their families.

“This partnership between NJHA and United Health Foundation is helping
to ensure that our military men and women understand the programs and
services available to them to improve their care and quality of life,”
said Heather Cianfrocco, President, Northeast Region, UnitedHealthcare.
“The Veteran Navigators are a critical resource, understanding their
experiences and their needs, and helping to alleviate the stresses that
our nation’s service members, veterans and their families endure every

About NJHA and the Health Research & Educational Trust
New Jersey Hospital Association is a healthcare trade organization that
helps hospitals and post-acute care providers deliver affordable,
accessible and quality healthcare to their communities. The Health
Research and Educational Trust of New Jersey is a nonprofit affiliate of
NJHA. It provides leadership and resources to improve the healthcare
delivery system and health of the community. Its mission is to develop
research projects and educational initiatives that promote quality,
affordable and accessible healthcare and raise public and provider
awareness about vital healthcare issues.

About United Health Foundation
Through collaboration with
community partners, grants and outreach efforts, United Health
Foundation works to improve our health system, build a diverse and
dynamic health workforce and enhance the well-being of local
communities. United Health Foundation was established by UnitedHealth
Group (NYSE: UNH) in 1999 as a not-for-profit, private foundation
dedicated to improving health and health care. To date, United Health
Foundation has committed more than $285 million to programs and
communities around the world. We invite you to learn more at www.unitedhealthfoundation.org
or follow @UHGGives on Twitter or Facebook.com/UHGGives.

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New Jersey Hospital Association
Kerry McKean Kelly,
Health Foundation

L.D. Platt, 202-654-8830