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1. What is Warrior Care Network™?

Warrior Care Network is a groundbreaking collaboration between Wounded Warrior Project®(WWP) and its academic medical center partners, Emory Healthcare, Massachusetts General Hospital, Rush University Medical Center, and UCLA Health, to create a nationwide, comprehensive care network that will enhance access and provide clinical and family-centered treatment to veterans living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and other related conditions.

Warrior Care Network will offer specialized clinical services through either a regionalized outpatient program (OP) and/or an innovative intensive outpatient program (IOP). In cooperation with the Department of Veterans Affairs, this program will connect thousands of warriors with world-class care.

2. Who is the program intended for?

Whether a wounded veteran is suited for care through either the outpatient (OP) or intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) will depend on a number of factors. Individuals will be considered for the IOP if a two- or three-week program would overcome barriers to care, like geographic distance. Other specific areas of eligibility criteria for the program may include:

  • Service member or veteran who served/deployed after September 11, 2001
  • The patient sustained injury(ies) during post-9/11 military service
  • Symptoms and challenges consistent with invisible wounds
  • Where applicable, ability to reduce alcohol and/or drug use to engage in treatment, with commitment to abstinence while in program
  • The patient’s physical and/or psychological injury(ies) require specialty care consistent with available services
  • Family participation, even if remotely, is preferred and encouraged
  • The patient is stable and able to travel and attend the program for at least two weeks

*Determination of suitability for care will be made by academic medical center partner clinicians.

3. If Warrior Care Network is not the right program for a wounded veteran, what are his or her options?

Information on other Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) programs can be found by contacting the WWP Resource Center at 888.WWP.ALUM (997.2586) or 904.405.1213, or by email at resourcecenter@woundedwarriorproject.org.

The WWP Resource Center serves and supports warriors, their family members, and caregivers through a multichannel contact center. In addition to responding to specific veterans resource requests, the Resource Center representatives actively reach out to warriors and caregivers to engage them in available programs and services. The Resource Center is equipped to help warriors, family members, and caregivers identify resources to meet a wide range of needs.

They commonly assist individuals with:

  • Registering as an Alumni or family member to participate in WWP programs and services
  • Answering questions about WWP programs and services
  • Connecting with a WWP benefits liaison
  • Finding resources to aid in accessibility modifications
  • Locating resources to provide emotional support

4. Why is this program needed? What is the demand among the current population for the services to be provided by this program? 

Since 2001, more than 2.6 million men and women have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan to protect our nation’s freedom and have returned home with physical and psychological wounds of war. The 2015 Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) Annual Alumni Survey indicates invisible wounds can result in devastating long-term impact. Mental health conditions were among the most frequently reported health problems, with 76.2 percent screening positive for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), 68.8 percent screening positive for depression, 67.4 percent screening positive for anxiety, and more than 42.5 percent experiencing traumatic brain injury (TBI). Additionally, 76 percent reported suffering from sleeping problems and 72.1 percent have back, neck, or shoulder problems. While the survey showed many wounded veterans have significant health care needs, they too often have difficulty getting the help they need. Although the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is working to improve care at VA medical facilities, more injured veterans are seeking VA care (65.3 percent in 2015 – up from 62.5 percent in 2014), yet access to care remains the major issue for physical and mental health care.

In addition, a 2014 Institute of Medicine report found the acceleration of PTSD among service members and veterans is staggering. From 2001 to 2011, the Department of Defense (DoD) reported a 65-percent increase in mental health diagnoses, and mental health issues represented the second most common complaint for post-9/11 veterans seeking VA care – second only to orthopedic injuries.

These statistics clearly indicate that a growing number of America’s heroes need specialized mental health care, but the numbers do not reflect the many veterans who remain untreated due to lack of access to adequate treatment or convey the impact these wounds have on veterans’ families.

5. What is the difference between an outpatient program (OP) and an intensive outpatient program (IOP)?

The outpatient program (OP) allows you the opportunity to live at home during treatment. This program is typically for individuals in the local area, are unable to take time off from work to stay on site for the intensive program, or require ongoing treatment that can be best provided in a traditional outpatient setting. The intensive outpatient program (IOP) requires you to stay on site during treatment for two to three weeks dependent on the length of the program. Therapies are consistent across the two programs but the IOP may be a more intense treatment.

6. What clinical services/treatments will be offered as part of the outpatient and intensive outpatient programs? 

Treatment offered as part of the outpatient and intensive outpatient programs will vary depending on the academic medical center’s program. Warrior Care Network is dedicated to treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and related conditions. Treatment will focus on both individual and group, evidenced-based therapies. The intensive outpatient program will also offer wellness therapies including yoga, exercise, and nutrition.

7. How were the medical centers chosen to participate in the network? What experience do these hospitals have providing care to veterans/service members? What is the experience of their clinicians?

The notion of creating a private sector network of major academically affiliated medical centers to provide, primarily mental health and traumatic brain injury, care began through a course of dialogues Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) was separately holding with existing programs. Through work with WWP Alumni and the individual programs, it became clear that there was an opportunity to connect these individual programs by creating a world-class network of care for veterans in need of specialized services for the invisible wounds of war. Working in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the vision for the program was to scale the top-tier, existing, private sector programs, facilitate true inter-facility collaboration, leverage the lessons that each of these programs has learned through their provision of care, and better coordinate services and share best practices in serving wounded veterans across the country.

Home Base, a Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Program, is dedicated to healing the invisible wounds of war for service members, post-9/11 veterans and their families through clinical care, wellness, outreach, education and research. As a National Center of Excellence, Home Base operates the largest, private-sector clinic in the nation devoted to healing invisible wounds such as post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, anxiety, depression, co-occurring substance use disorder, military sexual trauma and family relationship challenges. Home Base clinicians and staff are based at MGH and are affiliated with Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, both of which combine to be the largest teaching hospitals of Harvard Medical School. Since inception, Home Base has served more than 9,000 veterans and family members with care and support, trained more than 12,000 clinicians nationally and remains at the forefront of discovering new treatments – ensuring a brighter future for the 21st century warrior and military family. For more information please visit homebase.org

Operation Mend at UCLA Health is a ground-breaking program with a mission to partner with the United States military to jointly heal the wounds of war by delivering leading-edge patient care, research, and education and using the best medicine and technology available. Established in 2007 as a unique partnership between the UCLA Health, Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)-Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, Operation Mend connects the best of the military’s resources with the skills of exceptional surgical and medical specialists at UCLA to provide a collaborative and comprehensive approach to healing wounded veterans. At Operation Mend’s outset, a team of UCLA’s best reconstructive plastic surgeons was assembled to work alongside military medicine counterparts to primarily repair the facial wounds of service members/veterans critically injured during combat in or training for Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom. As the scope of injuries presented new and emerging needs, the services expanded to include craniofacial surgery, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthopedic surgery, hand surgery, neurology, and diagnostics and treatment planning for traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Since its inception, Operation Mend has provided not only extensive surgical and specialty medical care for its 140 wounded veterans but also psychological and social support for them and their family members at no cost.  Through their provision of physical health care, they very quickly recognized the cognitive and emotional care needs of these and other veterans and have expanded their provision of services in this area as well. 

Emory Healthcare Veterans Program has, since its inception in 2011, successfully treated hundreds of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation New Dawn veterans using evidence-based psychotherapy for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The program is dedicated to helping veterans and their families access help for PTSD, traumatic brain injury (TBI) and military sexual trauma (MST), while working to remove the stigma often associated with seeking mental health care. As part of the Emory Brain Health Center, the program offers a comprehensive, collaborative model combining psychiatry, psychology, neurology, rehabilitative medicine and wellness. Additionally, the program offers health care provider education specific to military culture. Under the leadership of director Barbara Rothbaum, PhD, an international expert in evidence-based treatment for PTSD, Emory’s Veterans Program is widely recognized as the Southeast’s preeminent private sector provider of behavioral health treatment for veterans with invisible wounds of war 

The Road Home Program launched in 2014 after Rush’s leadership recognized that the profound gaps in care for veterans’ invisible wounds of war demanded action by those with the expertise to effectively treat these conditions. Starting with peer-to-peer outreach as “warm entry points” to the program’s services, the program creates multiple avenues to connect to veteran-specific outpatient services, which currently encompass a mental health clinic, child and family services, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) clinic, and clinic directly providing support to survivors of military sexual trauma  (MST). More than 300 veterans and family members have been treated thus far for a range of issues related to military service, including post-traumatic stress disorder, military sexual trauma , traumatic brain injury, child and family counseling, and other specific psychological and emotional needs. Dozens of Chicago-area veterans have also participated in a unique career training and job placement program that has readied them for information technology careers. The Road Home Program functions as a regional health care hub, reinforcing the continuum of care in collaboration with VA, social service agencies, educational organizations and other healthcare providers.  Road Home clinicians and therapists who specialize in treating combat veterans also train primary care physicians and others to more effectively interact with and treat military personnel. Road Home is based directly on the successful and proven model of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Home Base program. One of Home Base’s founders, Dr. Mark Pollack, is now chair of Rush’s Department of Psychiatry and was hired by Rush to help create a veterans treatment program.  Dr. Pollack is also currently the President of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America and is an international expert in the assessment and treatment of anxiety and traumatic stress.

8. Is the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) involved in Warrior Care Network and if so, how?

The VA will dedicate staff to case manage and coordinate care into and out of Warrior Care Network for participants who are also enrolled in the VA and will be using the VA for follow-on or additional treatment.

9. Is the government paying for care?

Every day, veterans are receiving care in the public and private sector medical community, but up until this point, there has been no formal, coordinated effort in the private sector to provide that care in an evidence-based approach across the United States and then develop best practices based off assessed patient outcomes. While the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is committed to addressing the demand, it is widely acknowledged that it cannot do it alone. Further, some veterans are not entitled to VA benefits; some avoid VA medical centers (VAMCs); and some struggle to take advantage of VAMC services due to access issues. At the end of the day, there is a great, unmet need for care for post-9/11 veterans. To that end, WWP and its partners have committed $100 million over an initial three-year investment to support the needs of our nation’s wounded veterans.

10. When will Warrior Care Network begin treating patients? 

Warrior Care Network will have its official national launch and begin to treat patients in January 2016. Massachusetts General Hospital’s Home Base will be the first to begin its two-week intensive outpatient program. Operation Mend at UCLA Health, Emory’s Veterans Program, and Rush University Medical Center’s Road Home Program will begin their intensive outpatient programs shortly after. Interested veterans can make their way through the referral/recommendation process starting in January 2016. The objective is to serve veterans as soon as possible.

11. How can veterans enroll?

They can contact the Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) Resource Center at 888.WWP.ALUM (997.2586), 904.405.1213, or by email at resourcecenter@woundedwarriorproject.org.

The WWP Resource Center serves and supports warriors, their family members, and caregivers through a multichannel contact center. In addition to responding to specific veterans resource requests, the Resource Center representatives actively reach out to warriors and caregivers to engage them in available programs and services. The Resource Center is equipped to help warriors, family members, and caregivers identify resources to meet a wide range of needs.

They commonly assist individuals with:

  • Registering as an Alumni or family member to participate in WWP programs and services
  • Answering questions about WWP programs and services
  • Connecting with a WWP benefits liaison
  • Finding resources to aid in accessibility modifications
  • Locating resources to provide emotional support

12. Are family members included/considered in the program?

Family participation in both the outpatient (OP) and intensive outpatient programs (IOP), even if remotely, is preferred and encouraged, and in some cases required. We understand that family members, caregivers, and companions are a big part of the healing process. Warrior Care Network will engage family members in the care management processes and provide family-centered treatment.

13. What is the cost to veterans/family members to participate in the program? 

There is no cost to patients associated with participation in the program. However, if a participant has insurance, his or her health plan may be billed for clinical services to allow Warrior Care Network funds to be used in treating as many wounded veterans as possible. Any cost not covered by insurance will be covered by Warrior Care Network (i.e., no co-pays will be collected). Warrior Care Network would not have been made possible without the generosity of thousands of Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) supporters and the affiliate academic medical centers (AMCs), and more is needed in future years to guarantee the success of this much-needed public/private partnership.

14. How is the program funded?

This network would not have been made possible without the generosity of thousands of Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) supporters and the affiliate academic medical centers, and more is needed in future years to guarantee the success of this much-needed public/private partnership. WWP and its partners will commit $100 million over three years to fund operations and support the treatment of our nation’s injured veterans. 

15. Where can I find more information about the network? Where can I find more information about participating academic medical centers (AMCs) and their respective clinical programs? 

More information about Warrior Care Network can be found by visiting warriorcarenetwork.org.

Interested post-9/11 veterans can also contact the Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) Resource Center at 888.WWP.ALUM (997.2586), 904.405.1213, or by email at resourcecenter@woundedwarriorproject.org.

16. How will the program measure and ensure success of the program? What outcome measurements will be used to gauge the effectiveness of the program?

Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) and its Warrior Care Network partners established a program evaluation framework suitable to examine and understand program effectiveness. The academic medical centers (AMCs) have worked collaboratively to develop the evaluation framework and identify a core, common, cross-site set of variables to collect from each medical center. The six domains are listed below:

  • Project, description, implementation, and outcomes
  • Service utilization
  • Patient characteristics and demographics
  • Patient outcomes
  • Patient satisfaction
  • Patient well-being after care

17. What type of care is given post-intensive outpatient program (IOP)? 

If treatment is received through the IOP, a post-IOP care plan will be developed and discussed with the veteran and an applicable community provider will be identified to support with the execution of that care plan. Additionally, a follow-up care survey and assessments will be requested from participants three, six, and 12 months after care to monitor treatment progress and satisfaction in the program. The academic medical centers (AMCs) will also work with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) to coordinate follow-up care for the veteran in his or her hometown as needed.