press release January 27, 2017
The New Jersey Department of Health today announced a $290,000 telehealth grant to Virtua Health that will assist veterans who need access to primary and behavioral healthcare services but may face mobility or transportation challenges.
By coordinating care with Oaks Integrated Care, Legacy Treatment Services and InSight Telepsychiatry, Virtua will offer primary and behavioral health visits conducted via online technology starting February 1.
Stigma, negative ideas about seeking help, perceptions of the Veterans Administration (VA) and a lack of access due to geography and transportation issues make it difficult for veterans to visit a doctor in person. Some medical conditions such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), brain injury, spinal cord injury and other psychiatric disorders further complicate the ability for travel.
“For many veterans, travel to see a healthcare provider can be complicated and overwhelming, particularly in areas where transportation options might be limited,” Health Commissioner Cathleen Bennett said. “Telehealth can ease the burden by offering long-distance virtual care to veterans while they remain in a comfortable environment.”
Telehealth includes telepsychology, telepsychiatry, telebehavioral health, e-counseling, e-therapy, online therapy and cybercounseling. If veterans have other needs such as housing, employment or transportation, Virtua will seek to connect them to appropriate services.
One in five homeless Americans are veterans. One in three homeless men are veterans, and about 60 percent of homeless veterans are minorities. Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have an unemployment rate approximately 40 percent greater than the general population.
Veterans have disproportionate rates of mental illness, particularly PTSD, substance abuse disorders, depression and anxiety. Nearly half of combat veterans from Iraq report that they have suffered from PTSD, and about 40 percent of these veterans report problems with alcohol use.