Understanding and Building Effective Narrative on Veteran Experiences to Compel Program and Policy Action


Virginia has the third highest per capita population of veterans, and the seventh highest in total population. Many of these veterans are faced with wide-ranging and complex health issues, which vary greatly depending on their age, time of service and location of residence. Virginia’s geographic and socio-economic diversity provide for varied and unique characteristics among its general and veteran populations. Those conditions yield a rich research environment, but also a heightened need to translate and disseminate findings to varied populations and individuals. A growing body of veterans’ assessment and clinical research is aimed at improving health services for military service men and woman returning from deployment. Concurrently, military and veterans advocates are calling for improved connections between community health providers and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as, integrated care provision among physical, mental and behavioral health specialists.1 The Virginia Tech Institute for Policy and Governance conducted the 2010 Veterans Needs Assessment which asked the broad questions of “what are the needs and experiences of Virginia veterans, particularly needs and experiences related to veterans’ health and wellbeing” and “how do the needs and experiences of veteran differ based on key characteristics of the veteran”. Subcategories of health and well-being questions included the following topics: physical health, with emphasis on traumatic brain injury, hearing loss, orthopedic conditions, chronic disease, access and utilization, mental and behavioral health, which included PTSD, depression, substance use, family relationships, access and utilization, education and employment measures and life status satisfaction. Characteristic categories for the assessment included stratification by region of residence, era served, branch of service, age, type of service and deployments. In order to obtain representative results



Veteran culture, Health, Communication, Research methodology, Narrative, ViS, Veterans in Society


Dunkenberger, M. B., & Lo, S. (2014, April). Understanding and building effective narrative on veteran experiences to compel program and policy action. In H. Nobles (Ed.) Proceedings of the Second Conference on Veterans in Society: Humanizing the Discourse (pp. 106-107). Roanoke, VA: Virginia Tech.