Helping Your Provider Understand Military Culture

A new online course helps private clinicians understand Veteran terminology and issues.

By Hans Petersen

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Veterans Choice Program is making it easier for thousands of Veterans to receive their health care from providers outside of the VA system. Many community providers are not trained or experienced in treating this unique Veteran patient community.

To make it easier for health care professionals to understand Veterans and their military experience, VA and the Department of Defense have developed a free online continuing education course, Military Culture: Core Competencies for Health Care Professionals. The course is aimed at helping providers to better serve Veterans and Servicemembers by increasing their knowledge and awareness of military culture and experiences.

Erica Berger, an award winning clinical social worker in the District of Columbia, has taken the course and thinks it is a valuable resource. “We should all be aware of how our military is structured and what they experience as they serve.”

The eight-hour online course covers a variety of topics through interactive features, video vignettes, case examples and treatment planning scenarios. There are four modules and each offers two hours of free continuing education credits. The modules include topics such as military organization and roles, stressors and resources, and treatment resources and tools. Each of the modules within the course was developed using research, surveys and extensive interviews with Servicemembers and Veterans.

Berger adds that, “It was good training, especially for me, as my knowledge base about the military was limited. I learned a lot about the structure of our military and the range of difficulties confronting those enlisted, including the challenges associated with frequent moves and deployment, and the frequency of divorce among some parts of the military.”

Berger notes that the online course helped her understand some military terminology that was less familiar and she would recommend this training to other private sector clinicians. “It is a relatively quick and user-friendly way to sensitize ourselves to the experience of Veterans. The range of learning tools was helpful such as quizzes and verbal explanations to accompany the visual on the screen.”

VA former Interim Under Secretary for Health, Dr. Carolyn M. Clancy points out that, “the Military Culture Competency Training will help ensure Veterans receive high quality health care whether it is from VA or a provider in the community.”

This free course is being offered to community health care providers nationwide through the Veterans Health Administration‘s TRAIN website.

For more information about the course, visit

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