CONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Division of Community Based Care Services, Bureau of Community Based Military Programs has awarded the Ask the Question Outreach and Education contract to Easter Seals NH.
This $1.3 million contract, approved by Gov. Maggie Hassan and the Executive Council on March 25, will include a statewide campaign that will encourage healthcare agencies, social service organizations, and other groups, organizations, and agencies to ask the question, “Have you ever served in the military?” The funding is provided by the Department’s Balancing Incentive Program.
Of the 115,000 veterans residing in New Hampshire, only 30,000 receive their healthcare at the VA Medical Center. Not all veterans are eligible for care through the Veterans Administration and some veterans choose not to seek care there. The Ask the Question campaign provides an opportunity to educate and engage the civilian sector in understanding our military and better serving this population.
Today, this question is not included on the vast majority of health history forms in our State, nor is it routinely included when people access other community programs and services.
This campaign will not only Ask the Question, but it will also educate providers about referral pathways and identify resources when a veteran answers “yes” to the question. The initiative can help lead to more accurate diagnoses and also identify whether a veteran is eligible for VA healthcare services and benefits.
The catalyst behind this initiative came through the efforts of the NH Legislative Commission on Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
“We need to improve access to care and quality of care for our veterans,” said Jo Moncher, Chair of the Commission on the PTSD and TBI and Bureau Chief of Community Based Military Programs for DHHS. “We cannot improve access to care unless we know where our veterans are receiving care. Asking the question, ‘Have you served?’ is a simple step that can open the door to greater care, treatment, and understanding.”
The initiative will work well under the existing Easter Seals’ Veterans Count program, said DHHS Commissioner Nicholas Toumpas.
“Easter Seals has been providing care coordination to our veterans, service members, and their families for nearly a decade, and concurrently building a strong philanthropic movement through Veterans Count to meet veterans’ emergency financial needs,” Toumpas said.
Easter Seals has engaged Catchfire Creative, LLC to design the media and messaging for the Ask the Question campaign, and will carry out “boots on the ground” 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.
“Easter Seals and our partners are honored to collaborate with the NH Department of Health and Human Services on this initiative that will engage and educate service providers throughout the State about the importance of connecting in significant ways with those who have served our country,” said Easter Seals NH President and CEO Larry Gammon.
“We have a strong history of serving veterans and are eager to continue this important and life-changing work,” Gammon said.
”New Hampshire has the fifth largest concentration of military veterans in the nation,” said Major General Bill Reddel, the Adjutant General of the New Hampshire National Guard.
“Many of them do not use the resources available to them such as medical, behavior and educational benefits. By asking the question, ‘Have you ever served or has someone in your family served?’ you will help point our veterans and their families in the right direction, to the help they need and deserve,” Reddel said.
“I encourage healthcare and social service professionals as well as law enforcement, institutions of higher learning and other civilian agencies to Ask the Question,” Reddel said. ”Help give our veterans the care they have earned.”
The Ask the Question Campaign is dedicated to Lt. Col. Stephanie Riley, a former nurse with the NH Air National Guard and a strong advocate and leader for Ask the Question. Lt. Col. Riley died of lung cancer in December of last year, but her message and spirit continue to create positive change within our state.
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