New Partnership, Programs Help Local Military, Veterans

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Days before Veterans Day, the Quad Cities is strengthening its support for members of our military dealing with mental illnesses like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

On Wednesday, November 6th, 2013, UnityPoint Health - Trinity announced two new initiatives.

The first is a program that will be implemented this month to "help screen those seeking care in its emergency departments or certain UnityPoint Clinics for potential behavioral health issues," according to a press release. When a military member or veteran come go to the hospital or a clinic, they will be offered a wristband marked with a flag. The mark will serve as a visual cue for healthcare providers to ask the patient four screening questions for potential mental health issues.

"We're reaching out to the primary care offices," says Teri Johnson. "We would like to educate and train physicians on behavioral health issues that our troops face when they come back."

The second initiative has to do with Teri Johnson herself. Johnson is filling the newly-created position of Military Affairs Liaison at Trinity. Johnson is the mother of Corporal Jason Pautsch, who was killed in action in Iraq in 2009, and is also the founder of Jason's Box, a local troop support organization. Her job is to develop and implement an effective plan to support military members and veterans in our community, something she says could make the Quad Cities a leading community in the United States.

"I believe in improving the health and well-being of our military men and women and Trinity's mission is to improve the health and well-being of the communities we serve, so it ties in very nicely," says Johnson.

"Teri's the compass," says Retired Major Amy Hess, who advocates for veterans in Mercer County through her organization Adonai Community Support Services. "She [Teri] started this and she got us going, but it's a huge network that's just getting stronger and stronger."

In November 2012, News 8's Chris Minor shared the story of Air Force Staff Sergeant Courtney Rush, who shot and killed herself 10 months after her 2nd deployment. To see the story, click here.