Community events and other ways to gather Veterans’ narratives. Veterans history project.
Environmental accommodations and considerations
- •Event size
- ▪Consider smaller events that some may prefer.
- ▪For large events:
- ♦Have preopening times for small groups that limit noise and have low lighting and calming music.
- ♦Allow early access for finding rooms, taking seats, and becoming accustomed to the physical environment.
- •Parking: If parking is limited or far from the venue, consider free valet parking.
- •Signs: Provide clear, frequent signs with directions to the venue.
- •Entrance fee: Waive the entrance fee for caregivers.
- ▪Include family restrooms.
- ▪Post notices:
- ♦In key areas about where bathrooms are.
- ♦At bathrooms about potential use of restrooms by both participants and their opposite sex companions.
- •Noise: Limit background noise as much as possible.
- •Lighting: Event and access halls should be well lit.
- •Service animals: Provide for service animals, including drinking stations and waste bags. More information at: https://adata.org/publication/service-animals-booklet.
- •Refreshments: Provide multiple refreshment stations close to seating areas for quick and easy access for caregivers of those veterans who rely on them for assistance.
- •Presentations: Consider presenting information in a variety of ways: visual, audio, and/or sign language.
- ▪Use plain language with frequent pauses to allow time for processing.
- ▪Build in breaks within the event.
- ▪Create a tip sheet with pictures and instructions for using online platforms.
- ▪Include assistive listening systems and text display via closed captioning or computer-aided real-time reporting.
Know your attendees
- •Understand your audience: Read about the targeted veteran population who will attend.
- ▪Veterans who served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, a specific military branch, or in the process of returning to their communities.
- ▪Veterans with cognitive or emotional limitations.
- ▪The following links suggest books about military and veteran experiences:
- •Planning: Include members of the target audience in event planning.
Provide opportunities for participants to connect with peers
- ▪Include introductions and name tags using large print.
- ▪Discuss with veterans and caregivers the benefits of self-identifying as a person with an invisible disability through a wallet card, medallion on a lanyard, or lapel button.
- •Enable connections
- ▪Allow time in your agenda before and after the event for peers to meet.
- ▪Suggest veterans share contact information with each other.
- •Debriefing: Facilitate a meeting with veterans immediately after the event to determine if any problems occurred.
Inform and support your attendees
- •Agenda: Provide an agenda with a brief event description to aid in following along and being prepared for emotion-provoking content.
- •Announcements: Make important announcements at the beginning of the event.
- ▪Tell the audience if there will be any fire alarms or strong content such as gun fire, flashing lights, sirens, or references to suicide in the event.
- ▪Tell the audience it is alright to leave during the program and point out the exits.
- ▪Identify support staff at exits and throughout the venue.
- ▪Train staff to anticipate audience needs related to transportation, parking, and event activities.
- ▪Have support staff wear an easily identifiable shirt or vest.
- •Attendees and strong emotional reactions
- •Use principles and practices of psychological safety in planning events, such as psychological first aid: http://www.who.int/mental_health/emergencies/facilitator_manual_2014/en/.
- •If possible, have mental health providers attend the event.
- •Make brochures and handouts available:
- ▪On health care, social and mental health, and rehabilitation services from VA and from non-VA providers
- ▪On crisis intervention from the National VA Crisis Line including the website, https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/support/shareable-materials.
- Community events and other ways to gather Veterans’ narratives. Veterans history project.(Available at:)
- Military Families in Transition: Stress, Resilience, and Well-Being.Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, Department of Psychiatry, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, 2014: 147
- Issues in defining and measuring veteran community reintegration: proceedings of the Working Group on Community Reintegration, VA Rehabilitation Outcomes Conference, Miami, Florida.J Rehabil Res Dev. 2012; 49: 87-100
- Beyond war and PTSD: the crucial role of transition stress in the lives of military veterans.Clin Psychol Rev. 2018; 59: 137-144
- Traumatic brain injury severity, comorbidity, social support, family functioning, and community reintegration among veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2018; 99: S40-S49
- Community reintegration, participation, and employment issues in veterans and service members with traumatic brain injury.Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2018; 99: S1-3
- Reintegration problems and treatment interests among Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans receiving VA medical care.Psych Serv. 2010; 61: 589-597
- Trajectories of life satisfaction over the first 10 years after traumatic brain injury: race, gender, and functional ability.J Head Trauma Rehabil. 2016; 31: 167-179
- Strategies to cope with behavior changes after acquired brain injury.Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2019; 100: 1381-1384
- What are the disruptive symptoms of behavioral disorders after traumatic brain injury? A systematic review leading to recommendations for good practices.Ann Phys Rehabil Med. 2016; 59: 5-17
- Action ethnography of community reintegration for Veterans and military service members with traumatic brain injury: protocol for a mixed methods study.JMIR Res Protoc. 2019; 8e14170
Supported by VA Health Services Research & Development Service, Office of Research and Development , Veterans Health Administration, Action Ethnography of Community Reintegration for Veterans with TBI (grant no. SDR 12-302), and Enhancing Veteran Community Reintegration (grant no. ENCORE, IVI 19-487 ). Contents of this article do not represent the views of the Department of Veterans Affairs or the United States Government.