Homefront Enabling Relationships, Opportunities, and Empowerment through Support
H.E.R.O.E.S. Care is a collaborative effort among well established non-governmental organizations (NGOs) designed to provide complete and proactive support for members of all branches of the military and their families through pre-deployment, deployment, family reintegration and post-deployment.
The program consists of a network of tens of thousands of trained caregivers and thousands of professional mental health care and service providers working together to provide an unprecedented system of support for military members and their families.
Among the disturbing developments that have recently occurred, two stand out as areas of grave concern: the alarming increase in the number of suicides among members of the military, and the effects of PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, on a growing number of military families. Many of these families suffer due to the lack of a responsive support structure that can recognize and intervene to assist in crisis situations. Experts agree that a comprehensive, local system of support is needed. Not only was the H.E.R.O.E.S. Care model designed to meet this need, but to detect and provide mechanisms for action before problems escalate to a crisis level.
The VA has recognized that the collaboration of NGOs is critical in streamlining the process to provide timely and effective services. This program meets that objective. By combining the ability to meet critical financial and material needs of military families, the ability of trained Hometown Support Volunteers to provide direct support and to coordinate community efforts, the resources of local professional mental health care providers to intervene when appropriate, and job training and placement services to address the changing needs of the family employment dynamic, the recognized needs of military families are met where they live.
The structure of H.E.R.O.E.S. Care was designed to meet two additional criteria:
Members of the military enroll on a voluntary basis. Each service member designates an individual to receive support during deployment as their Primary Care Receiver. This person can be any adult family member or 'significant other'. A volunteer from the local community who has been trained in care-giving and the deployment cycle is assigned to that individual. Assignments are gender matched. This Hometown Support Volunteer (HSV) stays in regular contact with the designated family member coordinating local support efforts. The HSV has direct access to affiliated organizations which can provide employment and emergency financial support. The HSV has also been trained to recognize behaviors that might indicate the need for professional mental health care. The HSV can recommend any member of the family or assigned significant other for this service. The HSV continues in the support relationship for up to two years post-deployment at the discretion of the Primary Care Receiver.