The Citizen Soldier Support Program (CSSP) www.citizensoldiersupport.org is a congressionally authorized, federally funded grant administered through the Odum Institute for Research and Social Science at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. CSSP is a capacity-building initiative designed to strengthen community support for National Guard and Reserve Component Members and their families. CSSP focuses on increasing geographic and financial access to deployment and post-deployment related behavioral health services, especially for those living in rural areas.
Nationwide, roughly 50% of OIF/OEF veterans eligible for VA services aren't registered with the VA. For a variety of reasons, many of them seek care from providers in their communities. To prepare civilian providers to address post deployment issues facing OIF/OEF veterans and their families, CSSP has partnered with Area Health Education Centers and medical providers from the Department of Veterans Affairs, United States Navy and United States Public Health Service to create on-site and online courses for PTSD & TBI, Women Returning from Combat and Family Issues aheconnect.com/citizensoldier/. Nearly 8500 providers have enrolled in and nearly 4200 have completed the on-line training including providers from all 50 States.
Women Returning from Combat Provider Training - "Issues of Women Returning from Combat" full-day workshops were delivered in 2010 and is now available online, helping civilian providers understand the health/mental health concerns of women veterans within the context of military culture, gender-specific roles, available support resources and effective treatments.
CSSP Family Training - CSSP piloted a new on-site training on "Issues Effecting Families During Military Deployments". The first session were held in Wilmington, NC and Ashville, NC in late 2010. The trainings will be expanded to each of the other 9 NC AHEC areas in 2011.
Optometrists and Dentists - "Identifying Signs of Head Trauma in Military Veterans during Routine Optometry Visits" online course, available in early 2011, will focus on head traumas common to the military population and is designed to give Optometrists the tools to recognize the clinical signs that can identify veterans at risk for untreated head trauma. "Identifying Signs of Head Trauma in Military Veterans during Routine Dental Visits" will follow.
PTSD/TBI Tool Kits – CSSP, in partnership with the NC AHEC Program and VISN 6 MIRECC has recently developed 2 face-to-face trainings Tool Kits on PTSD and TBI. Over 2000 providers have received these day long trainings and many states are interested in duplicating these trainings. The demand for the Tool Kits nationally has exceeded expectations – a real indication of the latent demand from organizations eager to establish educational and financial processes to replicate the trainings.
CSSP works with public and private organizations to increase access to trained behavioral health providers. One of CSSP's most powerful tools in this mission is the warwithin.org database which enables veterans and family members to find local civilian health providers who understand the challenges of deployment-related issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, depression, substance use disorder and suicide. To address the concern that a reservist might have a lapse in care during the deployment cycle as they switch from civilian to military health insurance, warwithin.orgallows users to search for providers who accept patients with different types of insurance, or no insurance at all..
CSSP programs are guided by health services research. Leveraging its home at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the CSSP team uses analytical tools ranging from GIS mapping to statistical analysis to identify populations of reservist and veterans who are geographically remote from DoD or Veterans Affairs health systems. CSSP researchers provide answers on pertinent policy questions about adequacy and access to services from the VA, or the ratio of reservist to mental health providers in a given county. This allows CSSP to help its partners target training and other interventions to the needs of the community. www.unc.edu/cssp/datacenter