Soldiers returning from war face a host of challenges. Veterans, particularly those who’ve served in Iraq and Afghanistan, are more likely to suffer from psychological disorders like PTSD than their civilian counterparts. And because many soldiers fear that being diagnosed with a mental illness is a sign of weakness, veterans are less likely to seek treatment.
The Department of Veterans Affairs recently launched an online video initiative designed to help vets get the mental health services they need.
Make the Connection is a YouTube channel that features dozens of videos of vets describing their post-combat mental health experiences. And the VA does not shy away from difficult, controversial topics. The featured videos include a candid testimonial from a Lieutenant who was sexually assaulted during a tour in the Navy. Other videos feature veterans who discuss overcoming PTSD and drug abuse, dealing with traumatic brain injury, and advice on coming out of the closet while serving overseas. The YouTube channel and its associated website allows vets to filter videos based on gender, sexual orientation, when and where they served, and the symptoms or trauma they’re experiencing.
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Online video was a perfect medium for the VA’s message. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki said the VA wanted to create an “approachable online resource” that would allow veterans to connect to the kind of support they need, whenever they need it.
The VA is also eager to get the message out. Recently, the organization boosted views by buying YouTube and Google ads. And they’re not stopping there. The VA is expanding plans for a Telehealth service that will allow vets to conference online with health care providers.
Check out the VA’s Make the Connection initiative at YouTube.com/VeteransMTC.