Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Transition Services Are Essential for Military Families

The Coalition Reports: Transition Services Are Essential for Military Families
Bookmark and Share Raleigh, NC - May 10, 2011 - The Coalition

The Coalition, a statewide group of 40 organizations and their members advocating in partnership to meet the needs of individuals managing disabilities, mental illness or the disease of addiction, asks the question: “What do returning Military Veterans, High School Seniors in June, and rising Kindergarteners all have in common?” In a word, transition. Add Traumatic Brain Injury, Cerebral Palsy, and Autism to the mix, and you have individuals with serious challenges in combination with a disruption of established routines and services.

In the case of Military families, a return from deployment may include the transition to civilian life with a Traumatic Brain Injury, or to the family at home severely stressed by the recent birth or diagnosis of a child with a developmental disability.

In some cases, both challenges may be present. Families faced with such challenges often experience chronic and sometimes acute levels of stress as they negotiate the service system and the new or deeply changed interpersonal relationships.

During times of transition, adequate services such as uninterrupted therapies, good basic and specialized medical care, and family support can make the difference between even the possibility of a healthy adjustment to a new life, or failure. Sometimes transition points require an increased need for services, without which the breakdown of the family, and even death, can occur.

NC has the fourth largest number of military personnel in the country, and is expected to receive 23,000 additional active duty members by the end of this year. There are currently 25,000 National Guard or Reserves living throughout the 100 NC counties without long-term access to military health insurance or on-base services. There is a steady arrival of returning veterans who have some wound, illness or injury. Finally, there has been an influx of military families from closed bases around the country who have elected NC as their home of choice because of its reputation for good hospitals and clinics serving people with disabilities. Like the general population, many of these families include individuals with some type of developmental disability.

There has been much attention of late to the behavioral health care needs of returning military veterans. Some excellent programs and services have become available and more will certainly be needed. While Traumatic Brain Injury is often clustered among the various behavioral health conditions experienced by some returning veteran, in NC it is considered a developmental disability, and it is present in larger proportion among service members than in the general population.

Federally funded services are not sufficient to meet the health care needs of the military population or the needs of military families managing developmental disability. Nonprofit programs, individual donors, and state funded services are going to become an increasingly important part of the solution. According to Colonel David Sutherland and Major John Copeland in their paper “Sea of Goodwill”, it is critical that a lifetime continuum of care be provided to our warriors, veterans, and families, to ensure that they thrive as contributing members of their communities…A successful transition and continued support will enhance not only veterans and their families, but also the community.”

The services and supports that help families affected by developmental disabilities including traumatic brain injury are more important than ever, as many returning military veterans and their families are part of a small but growing community who depend for their basic well-being upon the supports provided by state government services, among others.

For more information on this and other issues affecting those who manage disabilities, mental illness or the disease of addiction, visit The Coalition website at

Press Contact

Contact: Jane Phillips
Phone: 919-865-8724

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