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inTransition Teams Up with the Veterans Crisis Line to Support Service Members in Crisis

Image of smiling woman with telephone headset sitting at her desk Naval Hospital Jacksonville's Specialty Referral Office enables patients to schedule specialty referrals onsite before leaving the hospital. (U.S. Navy photo by Jacob Sippel, Naval Hospital Jacksonville/Released).

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In response to an increased volume of calls to the Veterans Crisis Line (VCL) since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), inTransition is partnering with the VCL to coordinate certain types of care for active duty service members.

The inTransition program is a worldwide Department of Defense (DoD) program which offers specialized coaching and assistance to active duty service members and veterans as they transfer between providers and healthcare systems. The VCL is a program run by the Department of Veterans Affairs that utilizes phone, text, and online chat to connect service members and veterans in crisis to appropriate responders who can best help in that crisis moment. Both programs are free, confidential, and available 24/7 to all service members and veterans. Both programs share an overarching goal of connecting military members to care, and now they’ll leverage what they do best to better serve those who’ve served our great nation.

Beginning this week, the inTransition program and the VCL are combining efforts to provide improved, comprehensive support for service members. inTransition will now work closely with the VCL to connect callers with follow-up treatment after receiving crisis care at a military or civilian emergency department.

How will inTransition follow-up services after crisis care work?

When active duty service members in crisis contact the VCL, the staff will coordinate emergency care at local emergency rooms, both at military medical treatment facilities and non-DoD community hospitals. In this new collaboration, the VCL now will also inform the caller about the inTransition program and that he or she will be referred to the program and will receive a follow-up call upon his or her release from the hospital. The VCL responder will determine the most appropriate timing and coordination for completing the referral to the inTransition program, as part of the joint effort to maintain continuity of care following discharge. After the referral for emergency care is completed, inTransition will use their established process to follow-up with the military member and encourage his or her voluntary enrollment in the program. Once enrolled, the military member will be assigned an inTransition coach, who will arrange coaching calls to assist in connecting the member with a provider for continued care.

Coaches with the inTransition program will then facilitate follow-on care with military medical treatment facilities and other community resources. Coaches will also follow up with service members to ensure that they made it to their appointment. Military medical treatment facilities will likely see an increase in coordinated referrals from inTransition as the programs implement this partnership.

Why is this collaboration so important?

This collaboration between inTransition and the VCL will enhance continuity of care, and maintain positive contact from the moment of the initial VCL call, through the hospital discharge, to the connection with a gaining provider. This carefully coordinated follow-through and teamwork helps ensure that any service member or veteran who wants mental health support can receive it from start to finish.

Dr. Polizzi is the government action officer for the inTransition program at the Psychological Health Center of Excellence, Defense Health Agency.

Mr. Lowery is a licensed clinical social worker and outreach communications consultant for the inTransition program and the Psychological Health Resource Center at the Psychological Health Center of Excellence, Defense Health Agency.

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