Beyond patriotism: Marketing healthcare services to veterans
Not all veterans get medical care through the VA. Do you have a marketing strategy to reach this diverse audience?
- On Nov. 11, Veterans Day, our country will honor all the men and women—living or dead—who have served in the U.S. armed forces. Chances are you will see a lot of ads for this national holiday, some of which will feature veterans or will have messages specifically aimed at them. Marketing to veterans can be a challenge. They are a diverse group. They include men and women of various ages who have served in wars ranging from World War ll to the current conflicts in Afghanistan and the Middle East.
- Veterans, like everyone else, need healthcare services. Some of them obtain those services through hospitals and clinics operated by the Veterans Administration (VA). However, there are not enough VA facilities to care for all of the veterans in the U.S. That means many veterans will get their healthcare through community hospitals and clinics just like yours, and they may be a potential target audience for your services.
3 things to remember when marketing healthcare services to veterans
When focusing healthcare messages to veterans, it helps to keep some key facts in mind.
- Some veterans need help coping with PTSD, but most don’t. Combat is stressful. And because of what they witnessed during their military service, some veterans develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
According to the National Center for PTSD, the number of veterans with PTSD varies by service era. For instance, about 12% of Gulf War veterans have PTSD in a given year; the percentage jumps to 15% for those who served in Vietnam.
So even though those numbers translate to a serious risk for PTSD, they also mean that most veterans don’t experience this mental health problem. So don’t assume you can’t market to veterans if your facility doesn’t provide mental health services.
And even if you do have mental health providers who can help veterans with PTSD, it’s still wise to broaden your healthcare appeal and deliver your message to a more diverse audience of former soldiers.
- Veterans may appreciate providers with military service. Do you have providers who did a stint in the military? When profiling that provider in your direct-mail publication or on your website, don’t forget to highlight that military service. Veterans (and their families) may feel more comfortable interacting with a healthcare provider who understands some of the challenges of military service and how it may affect health.
- Promotions that are specific to veterans will resonate best. Simply saying you support the troops and appreciate their service isn’t enough. That may show the general public that you’re patriotic, but it isn’t a direct appeal to former military people.
How might you show specific support for veterans?
- Consider offering a military discount on screening tests, such as mammograms or colonoscopies.
- On Veterans Day, provide free blood pressure screenings for veterans and their families, either at your facility or the local VFW.
- Put together a volunteer task force from you institution that helps provide healthcare services to local homeless veterans or that helps build housing for them.
- Have one or more of your providers give free talks about health risks to veterans, which include an increased risk for substance abuse problems, depression, hearing loss and chronic pain. Veterans may also be at risk of health problems from exposure to environmental hazards, such as contaminated water, chemicals, infections and burn pits.
On this Veterans Day and every day, remember to reach out to the veterans in your community with kindness, compassion and services dedicated to their needs.
3 resources for more information about veterans’ health