Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies support the country’s 18.5 million military veterans, active military members and their families through various community outreach programs throughout the year.
- Through a grant from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, and in collaboration with the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Michigan Veterans Community Action Teams and other organizations, the National Alliance for Mental Illness Michigan (NAMI) is able to promote its NAMI Homefront program – a free program that teaches caregivers of veterans coping strategies and confidence to support their family member with compassion. NAMI Homefront is available to families, caregivers and friends of Michigan veterans and active military personnel. Caregivers participate in a six-session program that helps participants learn how to address the unique needs of service members and veterans living with mental health conditions.
“You realize that he will never be the same having been through war. I learned how to treat him more as an adult than as a hurt child.”
— Mother of a veteran after graduating from a NAMI Family-to-Family class held at a VA clinic
- In response to the growing number of Nebraska active-duty military members, veterans and military family members needing trauma treatment, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska has awarded grants to three organizations for their programs supporting Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and mental health issues. At Ease USA provides confidential, individualized counseling services, as well as group sessions to help veterans and their families address PTSD, war zone stress reactions, trauma-related guilt, anger management and coping strategies for managing everyday life. Lutheran Family Services developed a behavioral health and substance use disorder program in rural North Platte. The program provides regular therapy and community support, with additional support for active duty and veteran military members and their families. New Visions Homeless Services Omaha Campus provides housing for homeless veterans, and its health and wellness program teaches residents to identify and overcome their trauma while building an individualized plan for self-sufficiency
In addition to providing mental health services to America’s veterans, BCBS companies are also forming partnerships to help veterans with education and employment opportunities:
- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) are collaborating on the School of Medicine’s Physician Assistant Studies (PA) program – designed, in part, to help returning veterans with medical training work in civilian healthcare and to address the shortage of primary care professionals in rural North Carolina. The UNC PA program works to recruit military veterans, non-traditional students and students from rural and medically underserved areas. Eight of the 20 students in the inaugural class were veterans, and another was the spouse of a veteran. Currently, 35 percent of all physician assistant students at the UNC School of Medicine are military-affiliated or veterans, 63 percent are from North Carolina and 21 percent are from medically underserved populations.
- Since 2016, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (BCBS Minnesota) has been designated as a Beyond the Yellow Ribbon company for its role in building relationships with local military leaders, identifying which employees have military connections and committing to hiring and retaining veterans. BCBS Minnesota also has a Veterans Associate Resource Group (ARG), comprised of active employee veterans and those who support veterans, which organizes company themed events, employee career fairs and volunteer opportunities. There are approximately 215 members in the ARG, and the group has supported seven events in 2018. Another focus is to work with its veteran members and the community to support veterans, service members and their families.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina are independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of independent, locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies.
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