Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
KPBS Midday Edition

San Diego Group Trains Civilian Health Care Workers To Treat Service Members

4657539217_eca4d09877_b-300x225_t600.jpg
San Diego Group Trains Civilian Health Care Workers To Treat Service Members
San Diego Group Trains Civilian Health Care Workers To Treat Service Members
San Diego Group Trains Civilian Health Care Workers To Treat Veterans GUESTS:Marjorie Morrison founder and CEO of PsychArmor Institute Carie Rodgers psychologist at VA San Diego Healthcare System

Many service members receive mental health treatment from civilian health care workers, but these providers may not be prepared to effectively treat people from a military background. A San Diego nonprofit is looking to fill that gap.

Advertisement

PsychArmor Institute offers training and a hotline to help non-military providers better understand the needs of patients who served in the armed forces.

The local program offers an important service as the federal government is expanding veterans' access to care at facilities that may be unaccustomed to treating military personnel.

About 40 percent of eligible Iraq and Afghanistan conflict veterans seek care outside of the VA, Carie Rodgers, a psychologist at VA San Diego Healthcare System told KPBS Evening Edition.

"Not all veterans are close to a VA, there are a lot of rural veterans in this country who prefer to see providers who live closer to their homes," Rodgers said. "Some veterans and military members don’t want to seek their healthcare in a large system and find smaller clinics easier to navigate for them.”

Around 80 to 85 percent of mental health care providers who treat veterans are civilians, added Marjorie Morrison, the founder and CEO of PsychArmor Institute.

Advertisement

Rodgers said about 25 percent of the veterans who are enrolled at the VA San Diego who seek mental healthcare have a diagnosis of PTSD, and about 40 percent a mental health condition. She said VA San Diego has about 3,800 contacts with veterans for mental health conditions each week.

“One of the things we see a lot is just stress from deployment," Rodgers said.

On Nov. 5, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced its first batch of Choice Cards were in the mail, according to The Washington Post. The cards allow veterans to seek medical care outside the VA system if they can't get an appointment within 30 days or lives at least 40 miles away from a facility.

The Post reported that the cards are a "temporary benefit stemming from the VA’s record-keeping scandal, which involved nationwide coverups of treatment delays at the agency’s medical centers."

Corrected: February 3, 2023 at 9:41 AM PST
KPBS newsroom assistant Matthew Hoffman contributed to this story.