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2023 HSR&D/QUERI National Conference Abstract

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2002 — A Decade of Grassroots Veteran Engagement to Informing National VA Policy - A Veteran’s Journey

Lead/Presenter: Zeno Franco,  Medical College of Wisconsin
All Authors: Flower M (Medical College of Wisconsin) Franco Z (Medical College of Wisconsin) Whittle J (Milwaukee VA Medical Center)

1. Provide a summary of more than 10 years of grassroots veteran engagement in Wisconsin working with a wide variety of non-profit agencies, a civilian hospital, multiple college campus, as well as traditional VSOs and providers at the Milwaukee VA. 2. Describe lessons learned during the formation of the Wisconsin Partnership for Veteran Health, multiple funded research projects focused on tailoring for veteran culture as a key component of research recruiting. 3. Discuss the personal journey of one veteran in this partnership who gradually took on an advocacy role beyond SE Wisconsin, serving to advance the ideas of Veteran Community Engagement at the State level, and later through participation as a community voice in HSRandD and GROVE projects.


We have been careful to integrate the voices of younger veterans, female veterans, those from communities of color, LGBT+, and transgender veterans as a fundamental principle in partnership work. Specific projects working with particular subgroups and inclusion strategies will be discussed.

1) Participants will have an opportunity to discuss their own Veteran Engagement needs and experiences; 2) We will use a World Cafe format moving the participants through 5 or 6 table stations in small groups to review lessons learned within the Wisconsin Partnership for Veteran Health, including specific visuals developed to encourage veteran engagement, online recruiting strategies, policy wins, and capacity building with veterans serving as advocates for their community; 3) Participants will be asked to reflect for themselves how they might apply what they've learned or been triggered think about to their own efforts; 4) Summarized information from the World Cafe will be reported out by table note takers to the whole group and final discussion will be encouraged.

Given the level of funding, research activity, and high throughput recruiting this partnership has come to be known for, the session will appeal to researchers, veteran community representatives, and policy makers. A brief history of non-VA funded, veteran engaged research projects (SAMHSA, RWJF, Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment, PCORI, etc.) will be reviewed to provide exemplars of strategies that can augment internal VA research funding.