A pioneering community engagement project for veterans is set to begin this month, kick-starting an innovative campaign to include the input of veterans, researchers and community members in the evolving dialogue around ways to improve veteran health care.

CU Anschutz Medical Campus, Building 500
CU Anschutz Medical Campus, Building 500

Project lead Cheryl Krause-Parello, PhD, RN, FAAN, and co-lead Linda Flynn, PhD, of the College of Nursing at CU Anschutz, are leading the multistate project named Veterans’ Action League (VAL). VAL is responsible for leading a dynamic two-year conversation empowering veterans to have an active voice in guiding their own healthcare delivery.

This national project examines what information veterans need and want to make informed decisions about their health care. Krause-Parello is also the director of the military healthcare initiative Canines Providing Assistance to Wounded Warriors (C-P.A.W.W.).

“We know that veterans reintegrating back into civilian life can face enormous pressure and challenges,” said Krause-Parello. “Many veterans may feel disconnected from the myriad resources that exist to help them. If we take the time to listen to veterans, we can empower our veterans to make the best possible decisions for their own health.”

To improve the health outcomes of military veterans, Krause-Parello and Flynn are connecting with powerhouse teams of Collaborative Academic Research Members (CARMs) from the University of San Diego, University of Texas at San Antonio, Florida Atlantic University, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Rochester and The Ohio State University, as well as committed veteran unit leaders (VAL-ULs) in each state who will play integral leadership roles in engaging the veteran community over the course of the project. VAL-ULs and CARMs from each state will join forces and resources to facilitate stakeholder-centered dialogues concerning veteran health and wellness.

The ultimate goal of this collaboration is the development of an interactive toolkit for use by veterans, community organizations and healthcare providers to connect veterans with available resources, presented in a straightforward, user-friendly format.

Using a blend of in-person meetings and digital conferencing among a geographically diverse team, this project advances a robust, veteran-driven model of patient-centered care and patient engagement, recognizing the discrete health care needs of armed forces members.

This project is partially funded through a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Award (3302-UCD).