Mental Health & Substance Use Disorders Services – Vignette

Mike’s Story

Mike had his dream job. After serving in the Navy and completing his final tour to a war zone, he planned to get a job as a fire fighter. He was offered a job at his local fire department right away. He was so excited to start his job that he cut short his time-off period after his deployment and started the job early.

Only a few weeks went by before Mike started drinking pretty heavily after work. The stress of the job and the nature of the work took a toll on him and he was having nightmares about his deployment, and flashbacks on the job while responding to calls.  His boss noticed his fatigue and also that he had missed a few days of work. When he talked with Mike, he recommended that he seek support at the local community mental health center.

At his intake interview, Mike didn’t want to appear as frightened or weak. As the therapist led him through the questions, Mike reported fatigue, trouble sleeping, and occasional drinking, but did not readily discuss flashbacks or his experiences in the Navy. It wasn’t until his next session that he revealed his recent service and that he was struggling with post-deployment stressors and challenges.

Once the therapist knew this, and with Mike’s permission, he was able to consult and collaborate with a local Vet Center therapist to provide more culturally competent care and get Mike the help he needed to address his substance abuse and other underlying issues. Mike continued his therapy at the CMHC and also participated in group therapy with other combat veterans at the Vet Center. Good thing Mike returned for the second session! The therapist discussed this at the next staff meeting and the director of the mental health center decided to Ask the Question about military service in the standard intake interview.

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Select your profession to see how:

By asking “Have you or a family member ever served in the military?” senior services professionals can:

  1. Help older veterans feel understood and respected for their military service
  2. Make effective referrals to Veteran-specific programs and resources
  3. Help military widows access survivor benefits
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By asking “Have you or a family member ever served in the military?” children’s services professionals can:

  1. Help a student thrive when a parent is deployed
  2. Support families facing deployment and reintegration
  3. Improve peer sensitivity to military children
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By asking “Have you or a family member ever served in the military?” employment and vocational services professionals can:

  1. Identify a warrior’s transferable skills
  2. Connect Veterans to military-friendly employers
  3. Help a returning Service Member access veteran job training programs
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By asking “Have you or a family member ever served in the military?” faith-based professionals can:

  1. Identify families in need of extra help during deployment
  2. Motivate communities to come together on behalf of those who serve
  3. Connect military families to the supports and services they need
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By asking “Have you or a family member ever served in the military?” healthcare and medical professionals can:

  1. Build critical rapport with a reluctant patient
  2. Understand the relationship between military experiences and medical symptoms
  3. Provide effective referrals and resources
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By asking “Have you or a family member ever served in the military?” higher education professionals can:

  1. Help a warrior acclimate to a civilian learning environment
  2. Improve peer sensitivity to veteran classmates
  3. Effectively accommodate service-connected disabilities
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By asking “Have you or a family member ever served in the military?” housing services professionals can:

  1. Identify families that qualify for Veteran-specific housing programs
  2. Address service-related barriers to stable housing
  3. Provide effective referrals and resources
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By asking “Have you or a family member ever served in the military?” law enforcement professionals can:

  1. Keep veterans and their families safe
  2. Build trust and rapport in difficult situations
  3. Partner with providers who help Veterans in crisis
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By asking “Have you or a family member ever served in the military?” legal services professionals can:

  1. Support justice-involved veterans
  2. Identify legal challenges related to military service
  3. Link to effective resources
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By asking “Have you or a family member ever served in the military?” mental health professionals can:

  1. Build critical rapport with a reluctant client
  2. Understand the impact of military stressors on mental health and substance use
  3. Help a family understand the emotional effects of deployment on the whole family
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By asking “Have you or a family member ever served in the military?” social services professionals can:

  1. Engage reluctant Veteran clients
  2. Meet a military family’s unique needs
  3. Coordinate services between veteran and civilian providers
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By asking “Have you or a family member ever served in the military?” women’s services professionals can:

  1. Partner with veteran service providers in crisis situations
  2. Identify deployment-related triggers and risk factors
  3. Identify individuals affected by Military Sexual Trauma (MST)
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Call Us (844)-4ASKVET
Email Us AskTheQuestion@eastersealsnh.org