The iEX Talks are a series of TED-style talks from the Veterans Health Administration Innovation Ecosystem (VHA IE). Presented at the 2021 VHA Innovation Experience (iEX) Virtual Series, the iEX Talks highlight the power of innovation in creating real value and impact for VHA employees, academia, industry partners and the Veteran community. These innovations are breaking boundaries and helping VHA better serve our nation’s Veterans. This week, dive into the iEX Talk on how engaging the VSO and Non-Profit Community through a Resource Acquisition Clinic can improve VA Care.

Collaborative relationships are breaking boundaries for our Nation’s Veterans. In this iEX Talk, hear from Health Systems Specialist Crystal Woolen, from VA Western Colorado Health Care System who knows first-hand how challenging life after service can be. Woolen presents the story of the Resource Acquisition Clinic (RAC), which enables VA providers (Psychologists, Peer Supports and Recreation Therapists) to forge partnerships with grassroots Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs) and create a support pathway for Veterans to re-integrate into their communities.

While many services and resources currently exist, they often operate as silos that Veterans are either unaware or uncertain of. Woolen recognized that, “connecting resources to Veterans is not always easy” and developed her program to address this issue.

The flexibility and supportive nature of the VA Peer Support role allows that gap to be filled while providing continuity of care through the phases of transition and recovery. The RAC empowers Veterans to build social support networks outside VA, learn about underutilized resources/benefits, reconnect with other Veterans, build mastery in their desired field, develop new purpose, reduce isolation, pursue their goals, and identify and exceed their previous limitations. These far-reaching benefits amplify the effectiveness of other evidence-based practices helping to reduce suicidality, depression and hopelessness, while increasing Veterans’ personal commitment to their care.

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