Background: Social isolation during COVID-19 has impacted mental health/well-being of vulnerable populations, such as veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These ramifications must be explored to improve veterans’ mental health/well-being and prioritize emergent critical issues at this unprecedented time.
Proposed Solution to the Problem: Mission Alliance (MA) seeks to virtually engage veterans/stakeholders across four US regions: Midwest/Northeast/South/West. MA Veteran Unit Leaders and Collaborative Academic Research Members (CARMs) work together to engage veterans/stakeholders and discuss COVID-19’s impact on social isolation/loneliness/mental health/well-being.
Objectives: Establish four MA Units led by Veteran Unit Leaders/CARMs and made up of veterans/stakeholders; educate/train MA Unit members on PCOR/CER; equip MA Unit members with knowledge/tools to become full and meaningful partners in the PCOR/CER enterprise; build capacity for veterans with PTSD/stakeholders in PCOR/CER related to the impact of COVID-19 on social isolation/loneliness/mental health/well-being; capture and prioritize veteran/community stakeholder opinions on emerging PTSD-related PCOR/CER needs, facilitators and barriers to PCOR related to COVID-19; and develop a veteran-driven PTSD-related PCOR/CER agenda including mental health/well-being topics/themes related to COVID-19.
Activities: MA Unit members will facilitate virtual meetings to ensure veterans/stakeholders’ voices are heard in relation to the impact of COVID-19, will hold roundtable research reviews to discuss relevant research, and will create four field guides to direct meetings.
Projected Outcomes and Outputs: Two MA e-magazines will be published to disseminate meeting highlights. MA will leverage perspectives of veterans/stakeholders to develop a PTSD-related PCOR/CER agenda related to social isolation/loneliness/mental health/well-being during COVID-19, disseminate findings at the virtual MA National Convening, and create an MA Handbook. After completion, an MA Network will be established for continued community support, facilitation, and promotion of the PTSD-related PCOR/CER agenda shaped by COVID-19. Long-term objectives after the project period include enhancement of veteran/stakeholder opportunities as partners in PCOR/CER by developing/conducting a PCOR/CER project that may lead to PTSD-related comprehensive care of veterans affected by COVID-19, with potential to translate findings to other populations/traumatic events.
Patient and Stakeholder Engagement Plan: MA includes six academic researchers, four veterans, and two collaborators. Additionally, virtual unit meetings and the National Convening will engage veterans/stakeholders across the United States to become meaningful partners in the PCOR/CER experience.
Project Collaborators: MA Unit members are affiliated with Florida Atlantic University, University of Minnesota Duluth, University of Rochester Medical Center, Emory University, and Oregon Health and Science University. The PTSD expert consultant is a veteran affiliated with the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and is the Director of the South Texas Research Organizational Network Guiding Studies on Trauma and Resilience Consortium (STRONG STAR). The veteran consultant is the founder of Heel the Heroes and participates in veteran-focused research. Canines Providing Assistance to Wounded Warriors (C-P.A.W.W.) and PTSD Foundation of America are additional community partners.