Today’s society is represented by a number of challenges that are associated with the development and sustainability of successful programmatic efforts to improve health and wellbeing. Many programs have been established and integrated into existing frameworks in order to accomplish the desired objectives and have had mixed results across different populations. It is important to identify specific programmatic efforts that have been successful in this regard and how they have impacted populations in different ways. For example, military personnel and their families often face unique challenges associated with health promotion and disease prevention as a result of their circumstances and displacement. Therefore, it is important to develop programs and strategies to accommodate these groups and to provide support for their specific needs. The following discussion will address some examples implemented to support veterans as well as active members of the military and their families at home to support improved health outcomes.
The social work field plays an important role in improving the lives of active military personnel, veterans, and their families. Social work is critical in the provision of programs to support mental and physical health, substance abuse concerns, general healthcare practices, and child welfare, amongst other areas (Savitsky et.al, 2009). In this capacity, social workers must identify areas of need with their clients and determine an effective course of action to provide assistance as necessary (Savitsky et.al, 2009). Military personnel and veterans often face serious physical, mental, and psychological health challenges as a result of their experiences; therefore, they must be provided with the support and guidance that is necessary to overcome these challenges in an effective manner (Savitsky et.al, 2009). These efforts must focus on the optimal health and wellbeing of these individuals and their families to restore some degree of normalcy to their lives on a gradual basis (Savitsky et.al, 2009).
Another example of a successful program was the MOVE! Program for weight management for veterans, which has demonstrated its impact on veterans throughout the United States facing health risks as a result of excess weight (Kinsinger et.al, 2009). The Veterans Health Administration has been instrumental in establishing weight and obesity as primary concerns for its veteran patients; therefore, this program has been effective in supporting the needs of this population (Kinsinger et.al, 2009). This program was developed using the framework established by the National Institutes of Health to reduce weight and improve overall health through this process (Kinsinger et.al, 2009). The MOVE! Program has a potential impact on four million veterans in the United States, along with VA employees as a means of supporting new directives in weight loss and improved health (Kinsinger et.al, 2009).
Another program that has demonstrated some degree of success is the Tobacco Tactics program, sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs, which expands smoking cessation services for veterans (Duffy et.al, 2010). This program is important because it provides further evidence of the necessity for smoking cessation programs that will be successful and sustainable for veterans who smoke so that they are able to overcome this habit and reduce the health risks associated with smoking (Duffy et.al, 2010). The program has been effective because many VA staff members have received training and have provided support and assistance to veteran smokers in this manner (Duffy et.al, 2010). The ability to provide expert knowledge and guidance regarding smoking cessation services is critical to the success of this program; therefore, the training that has been provided to nurses and other staff members has been effective in supporting these objectives (Duffy et.al, 2010).
Finally, programmatic efforts to curb chronic illness have been successful in supporting the improved health and wellbeing of some younger veterans (Widome et.al, 2012). These efforts target tobacco use, limited physical activity, and poor nutrition in an attempt to develop new perspectives regarding weight reduction and other factors related to expand health outcomes (Widome et.al, 2012). There are specific areas of risk for many young veterans that continue to be targeted to ensure that they are able to overcome negative behaviors and to take the steps that are necessary to improve their overall health on a gradual basis (Widome et.al, 2012). These efforts are also instrumental in determining how to best move forward in modifying existing programs as necessary to reduce weight, improve nutrition, and curb smoking in the younger veteran population (Widome et.al, 2012).
Military personnel and veterans face significant health risks as a result of their experiences in action and under other circumstances. Therefore, it is important to identify these factors and to address additional challenges that are necessary to achieve desirable health goals and objectives. It is necessary to determine how to achieve these objectives through the creation of specific programs that target areas of need, such as weight, smoking, exercise, nutrition, and chronic illness, amongst others. It is expected that the demonstrated success of some programs for the military and veteran populations will continue to provide additional support and guidance for these individuals as they transition out of military life and into a normal routine. Since this period is very challenging and is often traumatic for many veterans, it is necessary to establish an effective understanding of the negative behaviors that often prevail and the methods used to modify these behaviors and to support positive health-related outcomes for these individuals during the transition period and beyond.
Duffy, S.A., Karvonen-Gutierrez, C.A., Ewing, L.A., and Smith, P.M. (2010). Implementation of the Tobacco Tactics program in the Department of Veterans Affairs. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 25(Suppl 1), 3-10.
Kinsinger, L.S., Jones, K.R., Kahwati, L., Harvey, R., Burdick, M., Zele, V., and Yevich, S.J. (2009). Design and dissemination of the MOVE! Weight-management program for veterans. Preventing Chronic Disease, 6(3), A98.
Savitsky, L., Illingworth, M., and DuLaney, M. (2009). Civilian social work: serving the military and veteran populations. Social Work, 54(4), 327-339.
Widome, R., Littman, A.J., Laska, M.N., and Fu, S.S. (2012). Preventing chronic illness in young veterans by promoting healthful behaviors. Preventing Chronic Disease, 9, E19.