As Veterans Day approaches, over 1700 service providers throughout NH have been educated about the importance of asking their clients one deceptively simple question, “Have you or a family member ever served in the military?” Understanding the impact of asking this question, and knowing what to do when the answer is ‘Yes,’ is key to providers improving their care for service members, veterans, and their families.

These efforts have been successful! Service providers in healthcare, law enforcement, education, housing, and other fields, have resoundingly voiced their commitment to better serving veterans, service members, and their families! Many have already changed their intake process to ensure they better identify this population in order to provide improved services and referrals. Success stories of providers jumping on this movement and bringing hope and help to their military clients across the state are abounding, and this initiative has been highlighted by SAMHSA in a recent webinar, seen in the national VFW magazine, and been a part of national VA discussions.

Launched in July 2015, NH’s “Ask the Question” initiative is at the core of several closely interrelated statewide military/veteran initiatives focused on improving access to and quality of care to those who serve. Partnering with Dare Mighty Things to bring military culture education to these provider groups, with the Community Mental Health Centers to ensure more culturally competent clinical care, and with the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) to support military families, these projects are offering education and assistance to providers and families on how to better address the variety of challenges associated with military service.

Why is this important in NH? New Hampshire has the 8th highest per-capita veteran population in the country, with over 115,000 veterans! Though many receive healthcare at the VA, the majority receive care from civilian providers. It is therefore critical for civilian service providers to identify the veterans they are serving to better meet the unique needs of this population, especially since many service members, veterans, and their families do not identify themselves.

Easter Seals is carrying out the direct local outreach and education to a wide range of providers statewide through an inter-agency partnership that includes the Family Resource Center at Gorham and the statewide network of ServiceLink Resource Centers. “Ask the Question” is an initiative of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services in partnership with NHCarePath.