Published On: May 3rd, 2022|384 words|1.3 min read|
Jay Gorman, Ph.D., is a research psychologist at VA Bedford Healthcare System
Finding people in the community to connect with can be challenging for anyone, particularly now, when a pandemic has upended social habits and lifestyles. A lack of social connection over time can lead to isolation, feelings of loneliness and lower physical and mental health. However, this is preventable.
Just like drinking enough water or getting enough sleep, social connection can have immense benefits on overall health. Veterans, VA and community leaders are working together to develop Veteran communities across the country that foster social connection and improve Veteran social health.
Through VOICES events, Veterans come together in public spaces to enjoy, support and connect with one another. Whether meeting at restaurants, bowling alleys or Veteran-serving organizations, these informal gatherings build Veteran community support.
VOICES began with weekly community gatherings hosted by peer specialists at VA Bedford Healthcare System. VOICES is now operating in 11 states nationwide and growing.
The VOICES team developed and refined materials to better reach a broad range of Veterans and provide Veterans and peer specialists with resources to establish local VOICES events.
VOICES events aim to create an inclusive space in every community enabling Veterans to connect, and any Veteran or Veteran-centric organization can start a VOICES event in their community.
Engaging with a local Veteran Service Officer, VA and Veteran-serving organization can make creating a VOICES event even easier.
Connect with friends, find resources, assist other Veterans and community members where they live, and become a part of this local, statewide and national effort to build support systems for (and with) Veterans.