National Center for Healthcare Advancement and Partnerships
OCE Partnership Impact
Veterans can join free online support groups, find peer-to-peer help anytime thanks to VHA collaborations
During periods of physical distancing and potential isolation, it’s critical that Veterans find support no matter where they are, especially if they’re facing an illness or health condition. Many Veterans Health Administration (VHA) collaborations are with nongovernmental health care organizations that offer online support groups Veterans can join anytime, at no cost:
- CancerCare: Provides short-term, cancer-focused counseling. CancerCare offers 15-week long support groups in a 24/7 message board format led by a professional oncology social worker. There are also live support groups over the phone or via video conferencing. Visit org/support_groups.
- American Lung Association: Offers several online communities for people diagnosed with lung disease; people can connect on message boards to others going through the same experience. Visit org/help-support/online-support-communities. The Better Breathers Club support groups are also now being held online. Visit lung.org/help-support/better-breathers-club.
- Imerman Angels: Facilitates one-on-one connections between someone who is diagnosed with cancer and someone who has faced the same type of cancer; a “Mentor Angel.” People involved in the program are connecting virtually. To find a mentor, visit org/get-support/.
- Cancer Support Community: Offers “MyLifeLine” discussion boards to connect people diagnosed with cancer to one another. People can also create their own private community website to share their story with others. Visit org/mylifeline.
- GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer: Connects lung cancer survivors with those experiencing lung cancer for peer-to-peer support via its Phone Buddy program. Visit org/resources-and-support/emotional-support/phone-buddy/. Also offers a HelpLine for people to ask questions and find support.
- American Cancer Society: Offers an online support network of discussion boards, chat rooms, and private emails. Also offers a specific breast cancer support network. Visit org/treatment/support-programs-and-services/online-communities.html.
- American Diabetes Association: Provides an online support community with discussion boards organized by topic. Learn more here: diabetes.org/discuss.
- Parkinson’s Foundation: Offers a Helpline for people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, as well as an online community with discussion boards on topics such as “newly diagnosed” and “caregiving.” Visit org/Living-with-Parkinsons/Resources-and-Support.
- ALS Association: Makes available a list of support groups in every state; each state has its own chapters that offer patient and family support. Check with each group to learn about virtual support groups at this time: org/local-support.
VHA’s Office of Community Engagement (OCE) is VHA’s partnerships hub and supports the development of these and many other partnerships.
“VHA partnerships and collaborations that offer support groups align with VA’s ‘Whole Health’ concept, and provide specific resources for Veterans’ health concerns,” said Georgeanna Bady, health systems specialist for OCE. “Most importantly, support groups extend a sense of community to Veterans and their families, caregivers, and survivors.”
For more information on OCE’s work and updates on these collaborations throughout the year, please visit VA.gov/healthpartnerships.
Posted January 14, 2021