Resources for Civilian Providers

Below are tips, resources and information for civilian health care professionals treating military patients with psychological health and traumatic brain injury concerns.

Learn About Military Culture

To best recognize the connection between certain health effects and military service, we encourage providers to research and develop an understanding of the experiences and exposures U.S. service members and veterans face.

Become familiar with military culture, including military ranks and the difference between National Guard and reserve members.

Common fundamentals distinguish military culture from many others. Cultural norms include a high standard of discipline, a professional ethos of loyalty and self-sacrifice, distinct ceremonial and etiquette requirements, and an emphasis on group cohesion and esprit de corps that connects service members to each other.

These cultural basics can make it challenging for providers to help returning warriors with a TBI or with psychological health concerns such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — especially when compounded with everyday stressors from their civilian lives.

Become familiar with military ranks and
Be aware of the services and programs offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
Review the resources that are available from the Defense Department, including TRICARE
Develop partnerships with staff at nearby military installations

Military Culture Training

  • VA Community Provider Toolkit: Features key tools to support the community mental health providers who serve veterans. Providers can find information on connecting with VA, understanding military culture and experience, as well as tools for working with a variety of mental health conditions.
  • The VA National Center for PTSD Understanding Military Culture: The continuing education course presents important information regarding military demographics, branches, rank, status and stressors. The author provides useful terminology and visuals to help the viewer understand military culture.
  • Military Culture for Healthcare Professionals: Designed by military culture experts working as part of a DoD/VA collaborative effort to help health care professionals become more culturally aware by providing education, tools and resources for their clinical practice. The site provides four modules of the Military Culture: Core Competencies for Healthcare Professionals course:
    1. Self-Assessment and Introduction to Military Ethos
    2. Military Organization and Roles
    3. Stressors and Resources
    4. Treatment, Resources and Tools
  • Center for Deployment Psychology “Addressing the Psychological Health of Warriors and Their Families”: A one week training course on deployment-spectrum behavioral health concerns facing the military population. It is offered four times per year in different regions of the country to non-military or civilian licensed mental health providers. This includes psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists, licensed professional counselors, and marriage and family therapists who actively treat active-duty, National Guard or reserve personnel, veterans, or their families, or plan to actively treat this population.
  • Star Behavioral Health Providers: A resource for veterans, service members and their families to locate behavioral health professionals with specialized training in understanding and treating military service members and their families. Those listed in this registry have completed a series of trainings that are intended to make them better able to understand, assess and counsel members of the military.

Training for Community Providers

Community providers play a key role in providing psychological health care for service members and veterans. It is important for these providers to enhance their military cultural competency in order to improve communication and trust with their military patients and avoid potential adverse impacts on the treatment process and outcomes. Below is a list of training organizations and specific trainings applicable to clinical providers. The organizations below provide CEUs for providers free of charge.

Training Organizations

Clinical Practice Guidelines


The Institute of Medicine defines clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) as “…systematically developed statements to assist practitioner and patient decisions about appropriate health care services for specific clinical circumstances.$rdquo;


The Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense (VA/DoD) Evidence-based Practice Working Group creates and updates evidence-based CPGs as a means of improving and standardizing the quality of care provided to Military Health System and Veterans Health Administration beneficiaries.

Psychological Health CPGs

In the mental health category, guidelines are available for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder, substance use disorder, suicide risk and bipolar disorder in adults. You can access them from these websites:

Clinical Support Tools

DCoE, in partnership with VA, creates clinical support tools to promote compliance with clinical practice guidelines. These tools bring together important resources for providers, patients and family members that support comprehensive, evidence-based treatment across the Defense Department and VA. Click the links below for access to, and for more information about, our clinical support tools.

This page was last updated on: August 11, 2016.