The Hektoen Institute of Medicine recently launched a veteran’s initiative to explore and engage in ways to help veterans in the Chicago metropolitan area. Instead of taking a lead position, Hektoen is looking at ways to supplement the expertise of existing veteran support organizations. Working within a committee structure thatincludes Susan Kern, MD, Dr.Sally Metzler,Carol Sherman (President, TransLumen Technologies),and Levi Moore (Hektoen government relations consultant). Hektoen to-date has identified the following projects to work on in 2016:
Hektoen Journal Grand Prix Competition
The Hektoen International (www.hektoeninternational.org),the internationally distributed e-journaldedicated to the medical humanities, is hosting a writing competition focused on ‘War and Veterans. The winning entrants will receive $1,500 in prizes and be published in the journal. Entries are accepted through March 31st with winners selected in June.
Bridging the Gaps
Working with Victoria Bruner,recently with Department of Defense Deployment Health Clinical Center and the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury and Kathleen Webber the Chicago Women’s HIV Studies Consortium Director, Hektoen is developing a series of art retreats targeting female military veterans. Using a model that Bruner developed with the Walter Reed Society and Kansas State University’s Institute for the Health and Security of Military Families, the Bridging the Gaps retreats would stress working with both the veteran and a family member/supportive friend to help the veteran adjust to the challenges of reentry into civilian life.
The Hektoen Institute of Medicine has significant expertise in identifying and administering grants. That expertise has been extended to the Bunker Labs, a national model, headquartered at Chicago’s 1871 technology business incubator. Bunker Labs supports veterans in starting their own businesses.
Hektoen is working to help the Bunker Labs secure funds to offset costs related to their Entrepreneurial Program for Innovation and Collaboration (EPIC) program. EPIC is an entrepreneurial training program for veterans. EPIC is currently conducting their inaugural class in Chicago, but ideally it will operate year-round and be extended to Bunker Labs affiliates located throughout the U.S. Hektoen is also an active participant in Bunker Labs’ Braintrust initiative, which mentors both operating and burgeoning veteran small business owners.
Old Irving Park Community Clinic Veteran Outreach Project
Hektoen is working with the Old Irving Park Community Clinic to further the institute’s veterans and volunteer health clinic initiatives. This pilot project would entail the northwest side volunteer health clinic serving as a community hub to identify and assist veterans in-need. Even with the advent of the Affordable Care Act, it is estimated that there are 500,000 Cook County residents who do not have access to reliable health care. That number includes U.S. military veterans who do not qualify for VA benefits or with other challenges that limit their ability to access health care. The Old Irving Park Community Clinic has a service area that includes 12,000 to 16,000+ veterans. Ideally, in-need veterans would be identified, provided comprehensive health care and be referred to organizations that provide other support services.
Hektoen is also exploring funding options to support research on the impact of multiple deployments on the children of active military members. This is still in the planning phase.