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Enhancing health and independent living for veterans with disabilities by leveraging community-based resources

Authors Hale-Gallardo J, Jia H, Delisle T, Levy CE, Osorio V, Smith JA, Hannold EM

Received 2 August 2016

Accepted for publication 15 December 2016

Published 20 January 2017 Volume 2017:10 Pages 41—47

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JMDH.S118706

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Lucy Goodman

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Jennifer Hale-Gallardo,1 Huanguang Jia,1 Tony Delisle,2 Charles E Levy,1,3–5 Valentina Osorio,1 Jennifer A Smith,1 Elizabeth M Hannold,1,†

1Center of Innovation on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System, 2Center for Independent Living of North Central Florida, 3Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Service, North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health Service, 4The Department of Occupational Therapy, College of Public Health and Health Professions, 5The Center for the Arts in Medicine, College of the Arts, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA

Elizabeth M Hannold passed away on September 28, 2015.

Abstract: The number of US veterans with disabilities has increased in recent years as service members have returned home with extensive injuries and veterans from previous wars acquire functional limitations as a consequence of aging with chronic diseases. Veterans with severe disabilities need assistance and support to maintain independence at home and to avoid institutionalization. The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) strives to network with community organizations to achieve the best possible outcomes for veterans. Key community resources in the US for individuals with disabilities are Centers for Independent Living (CILs) that provide a wide range of services, promoting independent living and well-being for people across disabilities. The widespread availability and services of CILs nationwide suggest their potential as a community-based resource for veterans, particularly for those with limited access to VA care. In this article, we discuss long-term needs of veterans with disabilities, efforts to address veterans’ rehabilitation needs at the VA and opportunities for leveraging the strengths of community-based organizations for veterans. More research is warranted to investigate CIL services and potential for CIL–VA partnerships.

Keywords:
rehabilitation, community engagement, community reintegration, functional limitations

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