December 2011

SAMHSA Policy Academy, Our Turn to Serve: Building Communities and Strengthening Military Families: A representative from North Carolina served as a member of the State-to-State Innovation Team and provided TA to new state teams.

On December 7-9, 2011, SAMHSA hosted a Policy Academy, Our Turn to Serve:  Building Communities and Strengthening Military Families, for eight states and the District of Columbia in Alexandria.  Representatives from five states, including North Carolina (Dr. Fang was the NC representative), served as members of the State-to-State Innovation Team and provided TA on specific topics to the new cohort of state teams.  In order to strengthen the behavioral health systems for SMVFs, participants identified the following priorities:  (1) improve access to data and cross-agency data sharing so that States are able to track and plan for Service Member deactivations and improve access to appropriate care; (2) increase workforce capacity and competence, institute statewide workforce training programs, and establish standards for military culture training; (3) streamline and overcome the complexities of reimbursements and financing services; and (4) outreach to local communities and involve SMVFs.  The conference emphasized the importance of developing a meaningful partnership with the VA, as its budget has increased in order to offer expanded services for behavioral health at the same time that state budgets have shrunk.  The goal of treatment is to promote and sustain recovery, with veterans reintegrating into their communities.  This treatment goal calls for coordination across agencies so that veterans have access to a seamless continuum of care.  The first point of contact is crucial, requiring shared planning between the VA and state safety net agencies.  In addition, families and community supports need to be engaged.