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Warrior Care Month puts a spotlight on the inTransition Program

Two women in an office, talking Heather Gauthier-Bell, director of Psychological Health at the 142nd Wing, sits down with an airman in her office on Portland Air National Guard Base. Counseling sessions are just one of the many resources provided by the resiliency team to airmen. (pre-COVID-19 image) (Photo by Air National Guardsman Staff Sgt. Alexander Frank, 142nd Wing, Portland, Oregon.)

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In 2008, then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates dedicated the month of November as Warrior Care Month. Now after supporting the strength and resiliency of our physically, mentally, or spiritually wounded service members and veterans for more than a decade, the focus has turned to resources and programs available to them and their caregivers.

inTransition supports service members and veterans who want to get connected to mental health care in their area or during a period of transition such as a permanent change of station, a return from deployment, a transition from active duty to reserve component or reserve component to active duty, or when preparing to leave military service. The program is a free, confidential, service that offers specialized coaching and resource assistance for active-duty service members, National Guard members, reservists, veterans, and veterans who seek access to mental health care. This program is available to all service members and veterans, regardless of time in service or discharge status.

“inTransition is standing by 24/7 to help service members get connected to mental health care, be it during a transition, or for the very first time. Our job isn’t done until we know you are satisfied with your new care provider,” said inTransition government action officer, Dr. Nick Polizzi. The inTransition program is overseen by the Psychological Health Center of Excellence, a division of the Defense Health Agency Research and Development Directorate.

Participating service members and veterans are assigned an inTransition coach (all coaches are licensed behavior health clinicians) who use techniques such as motivational interviewing and goal setting to support their connection to care to mental health services. The inTransition coach provides regular (typically weekly) consultation until they are connected to care. The inTransition coach will tailor available resources to the particular needs and geographic location of the service member or veteran. Service members stay in coaching until they are connected with a receiving provider and are satisfied with their care or they discontinue participation; participation is 100% voluntary.

"The inTransition program has been amazing. There are a lot of unknowns when transitioning from active duty to retiree. [My coach] was great with providing me resources at my new location. I would recommend this program to everyone,” said an inTransition program participant.

inTransition enrollment is required for all separating service members who received mental health care in the 12 months preceding separation (unless the service member opts out). inTransition coaches will reach out to these service members to support their continuing care. Service members and their providers can start the process by calling into the program, together, which often results in greater rates of coaching and care connection. 

“Your program does an excellent job taking care of our soldiers in transition!” said a healthcare provider to inTransition last year. “It helps having an extra pair of eyes and ears on them until they can transition to the VA or back home with providers. Thank you so much for all you do.”

“During Warrior Care Month, we want to remind service members, veterans, their clinicians, and those who care about them to know that inTransition is standing by to help connect them with the care they need,” said Dr. Polizzi. “Transitions can be difficult and finding a new mental health care provider in a new area can be a challenge. And inTransition is ready to help connect you to a provider that is right for you.”

For more information on all the ways to access the inTransition, visit https://pdhealth.mil/resources/intransition.

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Airmen and Soldiers practice breathing and relaxation during their off duty time in a deployed location. Stress can take its toll on your mental and physical health, including your heart health, but there are breathing techniques to buffer yourself from it. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Lance Cheung)

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