ASSEMBLE-Online Collaborative Health Communities for Veterans and Active Duty Service Members

Sponsor: Mental Insight Foundation

Location(s): United States


Close to two million American veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now home.  They return to their families, the work force, and their communities with core values of honor, courage, duty, country, leadership, loyalty and teamwork.  Upon leaving the military, our veterans’ next mission is to reflect on their experiences and draw upon their numerous strengths as they reintegrate into civilian life.  Key to Next Mission is our belief that these veterans will enrich and contribute most meaningfully in their personal lives, their careers, and as members of society.Next Mission is a series of innovative, strategic and interactive online college level courses developed and taught by faculty members of the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center. The courses are specifically designed for veterans using their GI Bill and active duty service members seeking promotion. These courses may also be audited for free by veterans, military personnel, military families, caregivers, advocates, and anyone else interested in understanding and supporting our troops and veterans.

Veterans and active duty military personnel are often reluctant to seek medical services (especially mental health services) because of the associated stigma, but they are actively looking for ways to explore their educational opportunities.  Substantial research validates health education as an effective medical intervention.  Our courses teach useful coping skills and recovery strategies to prevent injury and illness, mitigate the adverse affects of injury and illness, and facilitate growth and development.

The intital Next Mission courses address the signature wounds of Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury, and the challenges of returning home. Continuing courses address issues pertinent to military couples and military families, who silently suffer while loved ones are deployed and then share in the challenges of return, and women in the military who face gender specific challenges while in the service. Additionally, we are developing training courses for hiring managers and line supervisors so they can effectively mentor veterans and fully capitalize on the unique strengths of employees with military experience.

Next Mission courses are offered online over a secure, HIPAA-comliant private social networking platform that connects our students with other veterans and active duty service members. This social networking capability creates support and allows students to address subjects that they may only be willing to share with other service members and veterans.