Lee and Penny Anderson’s HeroCare for Veterans Meets a Need

Christine Dawson and Dr. John Kuzma

With funding from Lee and Penny Anderson, the Richard M. Schulze Foundation, and other individual and generous donors, HeroCare staff created a much-needed service for veterans.

In a matter of months, HeroCare staff created a space, hired Christine Dawson, a military veteran, as advocate, added a project manager, trained their staff, and developed an emergency services fund and marketing plan. During that same time, they created important partnerships with Regions Hospital medical professionals, like Dr. John Kuzma, also a military veteran and Regions Hospital medical director of Inpatient Mental Health Services.

Then, they launched it!

HeroCare, a three-year pilot program, sets out to offer the best, military-informed care to veterans experiencing mental illness. Sponsored by Lee and Penny Anderson, the HeroCare program was designed to meet the unique needs of veterans recovering from the psychological effects related to service. The HeroCare and Regions Hospital coordinated care team had five goals for the first year; they achieved three of the five and exceeded the remaining two goals.

  1. They served 95 veterans (exceeding their goal of 30);
  2. They reduced readmission rates by 12.9 percent (their goal was 10.4 percent);
  3. They established more than 30 “warm hand-offs” of veterans to outside agencies for continued/ongoing care;
  4. They incorporated the use of an iPad to increase patient satisfaction survey returns, which will be implemented in the coming months; and
  5. They will hire a second advocate to track and report outcomes, measuring how the Hero Care program effects suicide rates, homelessness, unemployment, and domestic violence among the veterans they serve.

HeroCare program staff said they are pleasantly surprised by the interest in their work from outside organizations.  For example,

  • Both the VA and the National Guard recommended veterans to Hero Care for services;
  • Soldiers and veterans from other states made inquiries about possible services for them; and
  • National organizations requested Hero Care staff speak at their meetings.

HeroCare program staff attributes this outside organization interest to both the need for the program itself and the good work of program personnel. It helps, they say, to have experienced staff in the field of military and mental health and people who are experts in navigating the VA system and other military services.

HeroCare hopes their work and their positive results to date will inspire other organizations across the nation to create similar programs.

There is clearly a need. Thank you, HeroCare, for the good work you’re doing.

You can read about HeroCare in the news:

New Regions Program Targets Vets’ Mental Health

Regions Hospital Launches New Mental Health Program for Vets

If you are interested in learning more about Hero Care for you or a loved one, please contact them at 651-254-6635 or 651-254-6655 (fax). Information is also available at Regions Hospital website.