We already provide on-campus wellness services to our students. How is this different?
We at VetAdvisor® know well that veteran reintegration needs begin, rather than end, at college and university campus gates. Since the new GI Bill took effect nearly a million veterans and their families have availed themselves of educational benefits. However, many veterans take most of the 15 years available to use these benefits, enrolling in multiple programs over the course of many years. The spottiness of retention and graduation data for student veterans is well known, but what is clear is that veterans are finding their way to campus, and that veterans need support services in order to remain on campus and to graduate.
VetAdvisor® services are meant to augment wellness or veteran peer or vet center services that are already in place. Specifically geared toward student veteran needs such as time management, campus culture and academic expectations, as well as wellness and behavioral health issues such as sleep, nutrition, fitness, and medication adherence, VetAdvisor® campus services help increase student veteran engagement and retention.
What training programs are available for campus administrators?
We train campus administrators on how to best source and retain student veterans, as well as trainings to facilitate a better understanding of military culture and how that differs from the culture of the campus. Campus officials, administrators, and counselors need an understanding of military culture and the distinct ways it differs from civilian culture in order to effectively assist veterans during their reintegration. Learning to navigate the very different social and cultural world of the campus can be a challenge for returning service members, so the better campus support personnel understand where veterans are coming from the better equipped they will be to lend support and guidance. We believe faculty and administration should be trained in the following areas: student veteran sourcing strategies; veteran-centric sensitivity; student veteran retention strategies; and the value of student veterans to campus life.
What services are available for student veterans?
VetAdvisor® offers an integrative approach to wellness that takes into account all potential reintegration issues to ensure that student veterans have the support they need in order to succeed on campus. For example, life in the military can be highly structured, while campus life can unfold at its own pace. Learning how to structure and manage time is an important part of reintegration. Time management can be adversely effected by other health and wellness issues such as sleep, medication adherence, or family or financial stress. An integrativeveteran-centric wellness program includes coaching services in behavioral health; career planning; academic success; financial issues; wellness; and deployment and reintegration.
Of course, not all learning takes place on bricks and mortar campuses, and not all services need be face-to-face. In fact, student veterans enrolled in online colleges and universities may have a greater need for holistic wellness coaching or peer support. VetAdvisor® has found that the most effective support services are both proactive and flexible, allowing online, phone, face-to-face, or chat or text interaction, depending on the veteran’s needs and circumstances. No matter how they are structured, support services are the key to retaining and graduating student veterans.
How does VetAdvisor® work?
VetAdvisor® utilizes a Veteran Aligned Services Team (VAST) model of care, similar to a patient-centered, team-based model of care anchored by a primary physician. We assign each veteran a Lead Veteran Coach who, like a primary care physician, serves as the main point of contact for the comprehensive care experience. A team of wellness advisors (subject matter experts in behavioral health, wellness, careers, and finance) works directly with the Lead Veteran Coach to develop goals and action plans that are based on each veteran’s history and are highly customized to his or her specific needs. The veteran, the Lead Veteran Coach, and the wellness team are all fully integrated on the same technology platform, enabling them to better collaborate on care and ensuring that everything is coordinated and integrated. Using this common technology platform, coaches monitor progress, determine evolving needs, and proactively send the veteran alerts and encouragement.
Can you give me an example of the coaching process?
The Lead Veteran Coach will conduct an initial intake interview with each veteran to determine individual needs. Veterans are then assigned subject matter coaches, experts in those areas identified as concerning. For example, a veteran experiencing sleep disorders will be paired with a wellness coach, who will work with the veteran to create a plan of action, milestones, and desired outcomes. When appropriate the veteran will utilize a self-monitoring device to track progress; in this instance the veteran might choose to use the Lark sleep device for tracking and monitoring. The Lark automatically transmits information to our secure Veteran Relationship Management (VRM) system. If the monitor shows a pattern of sleeplessness over three nights, for example, a notification is sent to the coach, who then contacts the veteran to discuss next steps. This incorporation of personalized goal setting and high- tech biometric and social feedback coupled with real time high-touch personalized coaching drives greater veteran engagement, productivity, and retention.
How do you select the Lead Veteran Coach?
Lead Veteran Coaches are assigned, but we honor all requests for either a male or female. Our Lead Veteran Coaches are generalists; they are recently retired military personnel who have served a minimum of three years and who have combat experience. Lead Veteran Coaches have knowledge of recent federal veteran programs as well as of trends in technology, wellness, and behavioral health. We endeavor to hire University of Southern California (USC) School of Social Work graduates with Veteran backgrounds to be our Lead Veteran Coaches.
Who are your coaches and what kind of training and experience do they have?
Our contact centers are staffed with coaches specializing in occupational, wellness, financial, and behavioral health for veterans, active duty, guardsmen, and reservists. VetAdvisor® coaches are primarily guard/reservist or retired military personnel. With a 70% veteran workforce, our coaches have over 300 years of combined Veteran experience, and all of our non-veteran employees have completed the University of Southern California’s continuing education course in Veteran Culture. We have a unique advantage in understanding the community we serve.