VHA HANDBOOK 1601A.02 - National Service Inclusion Project

Mission Possible:
Working Collaboratively
and Building Relationships
with Military Groups
National Service Inclusion Project
Paula Sotnik, Director
Toll-free hotline: 888-491-0326 (voice/TTY)
Operation ABLE Community
The Corporation for National and
Community Service (CNCS) is embarking
on OAC, a pilot to demonstrate the
benefits of a National Service experience
for veterans with disabilities who are reentering civilian life. National Service can
provide direction and purpose, allowing
veterans to continue contributing their
skills and expertise to improving lives.
Please share….
Are you engaging veterans and
Wounded Warriors in your programs?
What are the benefits? What are the
Operation ABLE Community
Most asked question from Vets,
Wounded Warriors and military
installation staff,
“How will this impact my benefits?”
If I am on SSI/SSDI and Veterans Benefits, how
will national service benefits impact me?
1. OAC researching clear and approved existing
guidance on the intersection and develop a paper
2. Identify unanswered questions
3. Hold summit with benefits experts and address
unanswered questions and gaps
Educate Military about National Service
1. Main goal = military staff offer national
service as an option in their transition
counseling plans and script
2. Develop a curriculum based on their input
and feedback
Educate National Service about the Military
1. Acquaint national service with culture,
language, positions, experiences and post
military status.
2. Educate national service on how to
approach and develop relationships with
military and veterans organizations.
3. Identify local and national resources to
assist with PTSD and TBI supports
What do you need to successfully
engage veterans with disabilities in
national and community service?
• outreach and recruitment
• application and interviewing
• supports and retention
What is a Veteran?
“Someone who, at one point in his life wrote a blank check
made payable to 'The United States of America' for an
amount of 'up to and including my life”. - Unknown
The Department of Veterans Affairs Defines it as:
“Veteran means a person who served in the active military,
naval, or air service and who was discharged or released
under conditions other than dishonorable.”
Branches of the U.S.
Armed Services
• Air Force
• Army
• Coast Guard
• Marine Corps
• Navy
Nick Name:
• Military Personnel
• Dependents
Service Members
Family Members
Born: 1947
Primary mission:
To defend the U.S.
(and its interests)
through exploitation of
air and space
Born: 1775
Primary Mission:
To protect and defend
the U.S. (and its
interests) by way of
ground troops, armor
(tanks), artillery, attack
helicopters, tactical
nuclear weapons, etc
Born: 1790
Primary Mission:
To provide law
enforcement, boating
safety, sea rescue, and
illegal immigration
control. However, the
President of the U.S. can
transfer part or all of the
Coast Guard to the
Department of the Navy
in times of conflict
Born: 1775
Primary Mission:
To assault, capture,
and control "beach
heads," which then
provide a route to
attack the enemy from
almost any direction
Born: 1775
Primary Mission:
To maintain the
freedom of the seas
The Lifestyle You Knew
Exists No More
• Boot camp
• Customs
• Uniforms
• Language
Content may be disturbing or harmful to those who
have experienced combat or other trauma. The following slides are
courtesy of Cornell University, Disability Services Office.
A service member
coming home may
Common Disabilities and
Challenges of this Conflict
• Body disfigurement
• Back, shoulder and knee pain
• Impaired vision/Blind
• Suicide
• Hearing loss/Tinnitus
• Unemployment
• Loss of limb
• Stigma
Common Functional Limitations
• Detachment, loss of
interest, numbing
• Hyper vigilance
• Concentration issues
• Anger outbursts
• Intense guilt
• Memory deficits
• Avoidance behaviors
• “Thousand mile stare”
• Flashbacks
• Sleep issues/night terrors
Common Functional
Limitations of TBI
• Difficulty learning and synthesizing new
• Decreased Processing Speed
• Working memory deficiencies
• Long and short term memory deficiencies
• Poor decision making /problem solving skills
• Unaware of difficulties
• Inability to focus and concentrate
• Fatigue
Common Stereotypes
About Veterans
All Veterans are in crisis
All Veterans can obtain VA services
All Veterans have served in combat
You have to be in combat to have PTSD
Veterans are angry
Veterans are men
Now, to share what we’ve
learned to date…
What’s Important to Veterans?
• Understanding why they joined the military and their
emotional response to their military service
• Personal goals
• Teamwork, emergency response and deployment
• Vet to Vet
• Respect prior service and leadership skills
• Focus on abilities, not disabilities
• Recruit in person
• Communication
Themes that Resonate with Veterans
• Importance of service and diversity
• Desire to transition personally and professionally
• Feelings of patriotism
• Prioritization of benefits
• Search for new opportunities
• Sense of accomplishment
“My experience as a volunteer in the AmeriCorps program
has given me the will to get out of bed everyday. It has
given me the education and the knowledge to understand
my disability and it gives me a purpose in life. If you don’t
have a purpose in life, it is hard to get out of bed every
-anonymous veteran who served in AmeriCorps
Common Questions You Will Encounter…
•How many terms of service may someone serve?
•May a member serve while still serving in the Army?
•Where are service opportunities in my area?
•What if I have a less than honorable discharge?
•Can someone support a family on an AmeriCorps living
allowance? What are the other benefits and WIIFM?
•What if I have VA appointments?
Best Practices
• Educate yourself on the military
• Be aware of mental health challenges and be
knowledgeable of where to refer if needed
• Understand that the transition back into civilian
life is again another culture shock and the more
structured the program the better the Veteran
will do
• If certain steps need to be taken, have a list of
the steps for the Veteran to follow and have
point of contacts for them to reach out to
• Actively listen to the Veteran’s needs Motivational Interviewing (OARS)
• Identify the chain of command
Best Practices, Cont.
• Educate the Veteran on what services you offer and
how the Veteran (and family) will benefit from your
• Be straight up, if your program will not fit their’
needs let them know
• Become acquainted with Veteran resources in the
community these take many forms
– DAV, VA, Student Veteran Organizations,
American Legion, VFW
• Keep in mind that accommodations may be needed
but the Veteran will be apprehensive about asking
• Give the Veteran an opportunity to lead
• Create a Veterans mentorship group
• Lastly, do not talk about military service unless
there are certain questions that need to be
answered or the Veteran brings it up in
•Engaging Veterans with Disabilities in National Service Initiative
•CNCS Veterans Corps
•Operation TBI Freedom www.operationtbifreedom.org
•America’s Heroes at Work www.americasheroesatwork.gov
•Invisible Wounds: Serving Service Members and Veterans with PTSD and
•Recovering from Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) A Handbook of Hope
for Our Military Warriors and Their Families
•National Service Inclusion Project (NSIP)
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