By Maurice D. Wilson, MCPO, USN (Ret), and Jim Wong USMC Veteran
On 01 April, National Veterans Transition Services Inc. (NVTSI) aka REBOOT, in partnership with TaskHuman is launching the nation’s first veteran wellness APP: veteranwellness.online, an evidence-based, simple-to-use veteran wellness assessment and intervention tool based on the Life Balance Wheel taught during REBOOT Workshops to help veterans self-prioritize their immediate needs and seek help.
Like many other veteran service organizations and state and county agencies, NVTSI is minimizing direct contact with our constituents to reduce risks to facilitators and providers for the next several months, and are turning to technology to help us continue our mission of serving transitioning military, veterans, and their families. With the COVID-19 crisis looming over America, our mandate to serve veterans and their families remains unchanged. And as “Social distancing,” “Shelter in place,” and “Stay at Home” become the new social norms, we see technology as a viable solution to connect veterans in need of emotional support with coaches to help them through these trying times.
Using a veteran’s own self-assessment across critical wellness domains – health, family life, career, finance, etc. – to guide their reintegration journey, the TaskHuman app provides veterans with on-demand 1:1 live coaching via video call from vetted professionals to address high priority life needs, thereby minimizing personal stress and maximizing the veteran’s chances of successful transition from military service to civilian life.
Early detection and mitigation of veteran reintegration issues, as identified by world-renowned Veterans & Families Research Hub (frhub.com/about/), and corroborated by The Veteran Metrics Initiative Study (TVMI) by the Henry M. Jackson Foundation (https://www.hjf.org/tvmi-study-update) is essential for a successful transition to civilian life. The goal of the program is to 1) Heighten self-awareness, and 2) trigger early intervention, facilitated by 1:1 with live coaches online. This is particularly timely as efforts to contain COVID-19 requires self-imposed isolation, a leading indicator of depression and suicide. Our expected outcome for TaskHuman users is to improve their Wellness Score by 10% in one year.
“Our APP is particularly timely as efforts to contain COVID-19 requires self-imposed isolation, a leading indicator of depression and suicide. And in anticipation of a COVID-19-triggered surge, we are seeking additional coaches to meet demand.” Jim Wong, Chair, National Veterans Transition Services, Inc. and USMC Veteran
We have begun training veterans to use TaskHuman, with wellness scores stored in a secure personal profile, to be used as their benchmark or intake score. In anticipation of a COVID-19-triggered surge, we are also vetting additional coaches. Following enrollment, TaskHuman will prompt users to continue monitoring their wellness, as they receive ongoing coaching. Veterans with a self-assessment score of 6 or less are flagged and automatically monitored for intervention by REBOOT staff. Our goal is to see all veterans achieve a minimum score of 7 or higher in any transition domains, removing them from danger.
Currently 70% of America’s veterans are not enrolled in a system of care, waiting until personal issues reach untenable levels before seeking help. In a majority of cases, a peer or family member advises them to seek help; however, because of stigma and/or fear, veterans are reluctant to seek help, predisposing them to unemployment, under-employment, homelessness, depression and suicide (70% of suicide victims were not enrolled in the VA system or veteran service organization). Furthermore, there is no system or process that facilitates at-risk veterans to self-evaluate their wellness to seek early intervention. The need exists for an online, scalable process so veterans can easily determine their wellness, allowing them connect with veteran-friendly wellness coaches/counselors in a live private, 24/7/365 1:1 secure manner, without going through a lengthly and often embarrassing process to obtain help they need from a trusted counselor.
Services will be delivered in three ways: (1) directly to service members attending Pre-Separation (Pre-Sep) and Capstone orientations aboard military installations before their release from active duty, as well as during REBOOT Workshops and One-Day REBOOT Your Life Seminars. Additionally, outreach will be conducted via social media such as Facebook, Linkedin, PSAs and articles. (2) Once veterans are enrolled on the APP, they will have access to a network of over 400 (and growing) coaches available to provide 1:1 counseling online across a domain of roughly 1,000 wellness topics, such as finance, careers, stress management, combatting drug or alcohol addiction, coping with job loss, managing a small business, parenting, dealing with aging parents, and even managing pets. (3) Word of mouth from users and counselors.
Known nationally for innovative veteran solutions such as REBOOT, Veterans Community Connections, and the Community Information Exchange (San Diego’s coordinated care system for veterans), among other tried-and-true programs, San Diego is the ideal location to validate TaskHuman as a cost-effective high tech – high touch solution, allowing us to serve the nation’s largest concentration of military personnel, from which approximately 24,000 transition annually to the private sector. Each year, 7,500 of these new veterans elect San Diego as home, testing local capabilities to serve them. San Diego also has the nation’s largest at-risk veteran populations: Post 911, female and homeless veterans, who comprise much of those vulnerable veterans “off the grid,” especially if they do not obtain speedy help, and should COVID-19 spiral out of control. Finally, the REBOOT TaskHuman Wellness APP will help to identify ever changing needs of veterans, thus reducing wait time for them to begin their successful reintegration journey. As a form of triage, this APP will help REBOOT staff and sister VSOs to prioritize their work, optimize work flow, and allow everyone to address problems at their onset. As data accumulates, we plan to analyze trends to further improve veteran wellness.
This will be a free service staffed by volunteer coaches and we are seeking experienced coaches willing to volunteer and support this initiative. If you are interested in volunteering please sign up at: taskhuman.com/veterans-program/.
For more information, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 866-535-7624