The goal of RAND's military health policy research is to help the U.S. Department of Defense and Veterans Health Administration meet the challenges of providing the best care possible to this diverse population, while containing costs.
Despite efforts of both the DoD and the Veterans Health Administration to enhance mental health services, many service members still do not seek needed care. Defense officials have made a concerted effort to promote treatment as a way to reduce stigma.
The DoD is one of the largest funders of research on suicide prevention but its current funding priorities do not reflect its research needs. Funding is overwhelmingly allocated to prevention goals already considered by experts to be effective while other goals receive little funding and are rarely studied.
As federal, state, and local agencies work with the philanthropic community to create models to outsource or leverage potential efficiencies from the private sector, a unique partnership and grant-making program to support veterans and their families has value and could guide future efforts.
A unique partnership to support private efforts to provide mental health services to veterans and their families could be a model for similar efforts should federal officials decide to expand privately provided health care as part of reform of the VA health system.
Ill or injured military personnel and veterans and people with dementia are unique populations, but they give us a preview of the enormous long-term care challenges Americans will face in the decades to come.