Just the Facts.

Is the Private Sector prepared to treat America's veterans?

The VA Mission Act was signed into law early June 2018 by President Donald J. Trump. The law dramatically expands the role of private sector care in veterans’ healthcare. But is the private sector really prepared to treat some of the most complex patients in the United States?

Two studies — from New York and South Carolina — provide a snapshot of veteran’s care and physician readiness in two very different states. Although no data is available for a national snapshot, the RAND Corporation report and Medical University of South Carolina do provide key insights around important parts of veterans healthcare.


Just 2.3% of providers who met each ‘readiness’ criteria, defined as:

  1. Accepting new patients
  2. Accommodates patients with disabilities
  3. Screens for conditions common among veterans
  4. Uses clinical practice guidelines
  5. Prepared to treat conditions common among veterans
  6. Screens patients for military veteran affiliation
  7.  Familiar with military culture

33.2%: The gap between providers who met the minimal level of readiness

(New York study, page 29)

Knowledge of Military Culture

“The military has a unique culture developed through rigorous training and maintained by a strong sense of membership in an elite group of well-trained professionals. Their experiences are difficult to understand by those who are not part of the profession.”

(South Carolina study, page 4)

1 in 3
Providers who met a minimum threshold for familiarity with military culture.

(New York study, page 40)

1 out of 6
Only 16 percent of providers said they had served in the Armed Forces, including Reserves of National Guard.

(South Carolina study, page 6)

Percentage of providers familiar with the following topic:

  • 30% Military rank structure
  • 25% Different cultures of different military branches
  • 22% Specific health care needs for women veterans
  • 37% General and deployment-related stressors for service members and veterans
  • 35% Differences and similarities between active and reserve components of the military

(New York study, page 19)

Ability to Refer Patients to the VA

6 out of 10
Providers who did not believe they were knowledgeable about how to refer a veteran for medical or mental care at the VA.

(South Carolina study, page 10)

Respondents who said they disagreed (39.8) or did not know how (33%) to refer a patient to the VA.

(New York study, page 21)


Providers who did not screen their patients to determine if they were a current or former member of the Armed Forces.

(South Carolina study, page 7)

Less than half
Providers who screen for common conditions among veterans.

(New York study, page 29)


Treatment of Traumatic Brain Injuries & PTSD

"PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) have been described as the signature injuries of the current military conflicts, so it is noteworthy that providers were less knowledgeable about, and less confident in the use of, treatments for PTSD and TBI than for other conditions." 

(South Carolina Study, page 12)

of providers said they were less confident in their ability to use best practice treatments for PTSD

of providers said they were less confident in their ability to use best practice treatments for Traumatic Brain Injury

of providers said they were less confident in their ability to use best practice treatments for Substance Abuse / Dependence

(South Carolina study, page 12)


"North Carolina study"
Title: Serving Those Who Have Served: Educational Needs of Health Care Providers Working with Military Members, Veterans, and their Families 12/1/2011

"New York study"
Title: Ready or Not: Accessing the Capacity of New York State Health Care Providers to Meet the Needs of Veterans (2018)