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New resources to optimise veteran healthcare

09 July 2024 - A/Prof Stephen Barnett

Launching tomorrow, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs has partnered with medical education company Medcast, to provide freely available resources for health professionals to assess and manage veterans’ health.

An initiative funded by the Australian Government, VETs HeLP represents a significant advancement in educating and empowering health professionals to provide better and integrated support for veterans and their families.

“There is an urgent need for health professionals to better understand the impact of veterans’ service history on their health” says GP and medical educator Dr Catherine Eltringham, who has led the project. “As health professionals, we need to recognise that veterans’ service history often makes them different from patients who have not served. And that the impact of service may manifest decades later in many forms - as substance abuse, serious mental health issues, relationship breakdown, and physical disability” she said. 

To assist health professionals unpack the relevant history in a consultation, the new VETs HeLP Learning Hub provides an assessment framework based on a “VETERANS” mnemonic. Using podcasts, case scenarios, webinars and audits, health professionals are provided with a veteran’s lens to help them understand the transition from active service to civilian life, and the impact of this transition on their loved ones.

Rates of disability and suicide in veterans are well above population norms, and the resources provided aim to address these issues by helping health professionals master best practices in sensitively interviewing patients to build trust and provide appropriate treatment plans. 

Health professionals are often the first point of contact for veterans and their families outside of military service and play a crucial role in their engagement with support networks. General practitioner and Director of Medcast, Clinical Associate Professor Stephen Barnett said, “VETs HeLP is an exciting initiative that supports the government’s vision of integrated long-term support for veterans and their families. Health professionals play a pivotal role in the veteran’s Transition Ecosystem of support, identified as a priority in the Government’s 2023 Veteran Transition Strategy.”

The first VETs HeLP webinar ‘Understanding our veterans’ healthcare’ is scheduled on 10 July 2024. For more information about the webinar and to access the VETs HeLP platform, health professionals can visit Medcast’s VETs HeLP site.

For health providers, there are also resources to help them navigate DVA claims processes and the education is CPD-accredited by the RACGP and ACRRM.

A/Prof Stephen Barnett
A/Prof Stephen Barnett

Stephen is a GP Supervisor, Medical Educator, GP academic and Medical Director of Medcast. He has completed a PhD on Virtual Communities of Practice in GP Training.

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