• slide
  • slide
  • slide

Rogers team members build bridge to veterans

02/15/24 04:00:pm
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide
  • slide

Devoting themselves to overcoming barriers, Rogers team members say connecting veterans with mental health care requires building a bridge.

“It’s like those links of trust,” says Dr. Rae Anne Ho Fung, PhD, LP, executive director of clinical integration. “I’m a link to the community providers who are a link to the veterans, and I’m a link to the System. It’s using me as a bridge to build that trust.”

A veteran herself, Dr. Ho Fung says her experiences while deployed in Iraq are part of what motivated her to pursue a career in mental health care, including working alongside a soldier who had a psychotic break as well as someone who struggled significantly with an eating disorder.

“It was a population of people that had a significant need and not nearly enough help,” Dr. Ho Fung says. “It was just the catalyst I needed to figure out what my life’s work was going to be. To be able to bring my organization along on that mission feels really good and like I’m in the right place.”

She says it took hard work and dedication to get to this place, as she works alongside fellow veteran Derrick Ellis, vice president of operations in Brown Deer and West Allis, and Elizabeth Erickson, director of clinical services in West Allis, to better connect veterans with care at Rogers. Dr. Ho Fung says the two have been instrumental in renewed efforts that are making a difference.

Part of their work included a veterans open house January 17 in West Allis, where they gave a presentation and question and answer session on Rogers’ admissions process and how veterans can receive mental health and substance use treatment.

Dr. Ho Fung acknowledges there are challenges, both with insurance coverage and trust, that they’re working to overcome.

“We have great care, and I want people to recognize that,” she says. “We wanted service providers, people who care about veterans and mental health issues, to come and see our space and build trust with us so they can build that bridge of trust for veterans in the community.”

Dr. Ho Fung says the Milwaukee area is home to many veterans. For example, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has a high number of veteran students, serving more veteran and active-duty students than any other UW System school.

“We’re in a community surrounded by veterans, and we know that the mental health need in that community is high,” she says. “We know there are a lot of very resilient, strong folks who need help.”

At the open house, Dr. Ho Fung says she spoke with a local veteran and advocate whose emotional words to her were a welcome sign of progress.

“We talked to him about the things that we’re doing. He had tears in his eyes, and he said thank you,” Dr. Ho Fung says. “He was just so grateful. It makes me really happy.”

She says she and her Rogers teammates plan to keep the momentum going.

“I trust we are going to do everything we can to meet the needs.”

Posted in

Related articles