New Program Seeks to Pair Doctors, War Veterans

In an effort to help U.S. veterans returning home from war with post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries, or depression, a new organization is reaching out to former military physicians for help.

In an effort to help U.S. veterans returning home from war with post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries, or depression, a new organization is reaching out to former military physicians for help.

“Healers and Heroes” is a new program launched this week by the Medical Society of New Jersey and N.J. Department of Military and Veterans' Affairs. The program will match returning National Guard troops with doctors who have past military experience and are willing to meet with returning troops informally to provide referral services.

Studies by the RAND Corporation Center for Military Health Policy have found that roughly 20% of service members who have deployed are returning to the U.S. with PTSD, traumatic brain Injury or depression, with only half seeking care. The main reasons troops don’t seek out medical care are absence of community linkages, stigmas associated with care, costs associated with treatment, and a lack of private physician practices that accept the military’s insurance plan, according to the program.

About a dozen doctors have been recruited to the program, which is seeking more physician volunteers, according to a report in Phillyburbs.com. Initially, doctors will offer informal consultations to roughly 1,500 National Guard soldiers who have returned home in the last 18 months, the site reported. The program hopes to expand the service to all veterans as the number of volunteer doctors grows.

Vincent Moss, an Ocean County surgeon and one of the program’s volunteers, told PhillyBurbs that an informal approach to helping troops get the care they need is critical. "It could be a cup of coffee or a round of golf," Moss told PhillyBurbs. "It's that initial fear of going to a doctor or a military hospital that we'd like to try to downgrade."

Physicians with military backgrounds who would like to know more about Healers and Heroes, or who are interested in volunteering their services, can contact the program at (609) 896-1766, ext. 203.