The solution to the problems of veterans can be elusive. Sometimes a veteran asks for help with one problem, but it turns out they have others. This is why the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs has Illinois Joining Forces, with working groups to address problems such as behavioral health, finances, employment, substance abuse or disability.
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“If you are talking to one working group and you identify an issue with one of the others, then we coordinate with one another with referrals, so that you can really get a one-stop shop, if you will, no wrong door, no wrong person approach to helping veterans,” says That’s Tom Miller, veterans’ services team leader for the Illinois Division of Mental Health. Miller is a Vietnam veteran based in Pekin.
The state also operates the Illinois Warrior Assistance Program, to assist veterans having difficulty making the mental or emotional adjustment to civilian life after combat or active duty. Miller says many of those who fought in Iraq or Afghanistan suffered traumatic brain injury, and the consequent post-traumatic stress disorder can be hard to recognize, but it can produce emotional detachment, anger management problems or substance abuse problems.