Veterans' Action League
The voices of 21.5 million US veterans in health research are largely silent. Reintegration into civilian life— identified as having a unique set of psychological and physical vulnerabilities – may affect veterans’ health and healthcare decisions. Sound healthcare decision – making requires having up-to-date, understandable, evidence-based information, and the decision-making capacity to utilize this information.
Yet, many veterans have had limited opportunities to be dynamic participants in their healthcare decisions due in large part to insufficient systems to facilitate their participation. This project aided in empowering veterans to have an active voice in improving research by creating a national platform to help us better understand obstacles veterans face when seeking healthcare treatments.
Researchers from six powerhouse universities in California, Florida, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas collaborated with veteran leaders and the veteran communities in their respective states and dialogued about salient topics in veteran health care. Together, these teams aided in the development of a toolkit which will support veterans, their families, and community members to dynamically navigate the contemporary health care information most meaningful to them.
Veterans' Action League Community
Respective VAL Leaders served as each VAL Unit’s driving force engaging various members of communities and bringing stakeholders together to dialogue about the current state of veteran health care, what needs to be accomplished, concrete ways in which patients and communities may successfully collaborate with researchers, and how these goals may be innovatively, efficiently reached. VAL Leaders interfaced with the Collaborative Academic Research Member (CARM) in their state, as well as with the University of Colorado project team’s VAL Unit Liaison Coordinator and, planned logistics of monthly meetings; aided the project team with the planning and organization of roundtables, conferences, town hall meetings, networking tasks, and a project retreat for stakeholders; aided the project team by providing clear, organized input for the creation of a Patient Centered Outcomes Research Community Capacity Building Toolkit for Veterans; and aided in the completion of identified project deliverables.
CARMs were employed by established universities or research institutions in each state and had a substantial amount of research experience prior to their involvement with this project. CARMs listened closely to patient and stakeholder perspectives on their healthcare information needs, and provided a monthly summary of the VAL Unit’s perspectives during meetings. CARMs also aided in the logistical planning of monthly meetings, the execution of deliverables, and the development of the Toolkit. Ultimately, CARMs interfaced with VAL Leaders and successfully establish and build the VAL Unit in their state. The researcher also are engaged in presentations and publications regarding the VAL project and will be a vital resource for knowledge dissemination.