COLUMBUS, Ohio For troubled war veterans, a friendly bartender can be the source of more than just drinks and a sympathetic ear.
A pilot study suggests that some bartenders may be in a good position to identify veterans in need of mental health services and help connect them to the appropriate agency.
Researchers at Ohio State University surveyed 71 bartenders employed at Veterans of Foreign Wars posts in Ohio.
The results showed that bartenders felt very close to their customers and that these customers shared their problems freely with them, said Keith Anderson, lead author of the study and assistant professor of social work at Ohio State.
"Many of the bartenders said that their customers were very much like family," Anderson said.
"Given the closeness of the relationships, these bartenders are in a really great position to help these veterans if they are given the right training and the right tools."
Anderson conducted the study with Jeffrey Maile and Lynette Fisher, former undergraduate students at Ohio State. The study appears in the current issue of the Journal of Military and Veterans' Health.
The researchers sent surveys to 300 randomly selected VFW posts in Ohio. They received responses from 71 bartenders working at 32 different VFW posts.
Of the bartenders surveyed, 73 percent said their role with their customers was "like family." And about 70 percent of the bartenders said that the veterans they interacted with "always" or "often" shared their problems with them.
Encouragingly, 80 percent of the bartenders said they would be willing to refer veterans to services at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
These results show why bartenders may be especially well-suited to help troubled veterans, Anderson said.
"We need to find the veterans where they are. Many of them may not be willing to go to a VA clinic to seek out help on their own. The
|Contact: Keith Anderson|
Ohio State University