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A conversation about SC veterans and the healthcare services they need

Dr. Nikki Wooten, University of South Carolina
Dr. Nikki Wooten, University of South Carolina

With nearly 390,000 veterans, South Carolina ranks in the top 20 for states with large veteran populations.

Dr. Nikki Wooten is with the University of South Carolina, coordinating the coordinates the College of Social Work's Graduate Certificate for Social and Behavioral Health with Military Members, Veterans and Military Families. As the nation places extra focus on veterans, Dr. Wooten tells South Carolina Public Radio, now is a good time to remember time to remember that there are many who struggle to find the health care resources they require.

“Often times veterans can find those services either in their local community or they can begin looking for those services in their local veteran’s benefits administration office.”

According to DHEC, S.C. veterans represent 10% of the adult population of the Palmetto State and have 26% higher odds of having depression and are 74% more likely to have a problem with drugs or alcohol in their lifetime.

Dr. Wooten said South Carolina’s veterans are not struggling more than others, but because of the state’s significant population — calling it and the University of South Carolina “veteran-friendly” and citing the Columbia VA Healthcare system’s large influx of Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom vets — there is a great need in the area.

“I think the need is outreach to veterans who may be are eligible for VA healthcare and not receiving it, and also outreach to veterans who may be ineligible for VA healthcare by virtue of the length of time they served in the military and/ or the characteristic of their discharge.”

Thelisha Eaddy is the local Morning Edition host for South Carolina Public Radio.