Online Program

Working toward peace by providing civilian services for military personnel - conceptual and practical findings

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 : 1:00 p.m. - 1:15 p.m.

Howard Waitzkin, MD, PhD, Department of Sociology and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy, University of New Mexico, Loves Park, IL
Objective: The health and mental health problems of military personnel have emerged as a public health epidemic. We attempted to identify social variables that mediate health and mental health disorders among active duty GIs and to assess whether civilian services offered a viable alternative to military services.

Methods: Our sample was drawn from the clients of a nationwide network of civilian physicians and mental health service providers (the Civilian Medical Resources Network) who offered their services to active-duty military personnel. Using a multi-method approach, we conducted quantitative and qualitative analysis of data collected during intake and follow-up interviews.

Results: This report presents conceptual and practical findings that have emerged from our voluntary clinical work and evaluative research with more than 600 clients. When more soldiers commit suicide than die in combat, we analyze what war accomplishes in the post-9/11 era. We examine theories of terror and present a contrasting theory that focuses on the economic draft and the exploitation of marginalized populations under conditions of stagnation and anomie. The epidemic of mental health problems among GIs (suicide, depression, military sexual trauma, homicidality, criminality, substance abuse, domestic violence, homelessness, unemployment, etc.) reflects the futility of narrative to explain their own and their victims' suffering. By eliminating the structural problem of double agency inherent in military health services, civilian sector services can achieve favorable changes for GIs facing desperate conditions.

Conclusion: These perspectives warrant new public health strategies focusing on the current roots and outcomes of war.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Provision of health care to the public

Learning Objectives:
Discuss theoretical explanations of what war accomplishes Demonstrate the clinical and research findings from a long-term project that provides civilian-sector mental and physical health services for active duty GIs

Keyword(s): Access to Health Care, Veterans' Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Dr. Waitzkin has published extensively and lectured widely on health policy in comparative international perspectives and on psychosocial issues in primary care, including but not limited to for military personnel. His research areas span medical sociology, sociology of mental health, Latin America, social policy He initiated and coordinated the assessment of the project to be described in the presentation.
Any relevant financial relationships? Yes

Name of Organization Clinical/Research Area Type of relationship
University of New Mexico Mental Health Employment (includes retainer)

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.