September 2006

North Carolina Stakeholder Summit, hosted by the Governor, and sponsored by the DMH/DD/SAS and MIRECC, VISN 6, US Department of VA, which brought together key state, federal, and local stakeholders: The Governor’s Focus on Servicemembers, Veterans, and Their Families was formed, followed by monthly meetings, which continue to this day. The group has been the source of many new partnerships and initiatives that support the State’s military-connected citizens.

As a consequence of the SAMHSA-TCA meeting, stakeholders in North Carolina began meeting and decided that a state summit would highlight the behavioral health concerns and needs of returning veterans and their families.  Hosted by the Governor, MIRECC, VISN 6, US Department of VA; on September 27, 2006, the Summit brought together nearly 100 individuals, representing federal and state government, providers, advocacy groups, and military members and their families.  Attendees began the work of articulating an integrated continuum of care that focused on access, quality, effectiveness, efficiency, and compassion.  Principles of resilience, prevention, and recovery were emphasized along with state-of-the-art clinical services as part of a balanced behavioral health approach.  This meeting laid the groundwork for the North Carolina Focus on Servicemembers, Veterans, and their Families (Focus) and represented the beginning of a referral network of informational, supportive, clinical, and administrative services that facilitates access to post-deployment readjustment assistance and community reintegration for veterans and their families.

Since the September 2006 Summit, Focus has been meeting monthly to introduce new initiatives and resources in the State; to identify new partnering opportunities; to determine challenges and pose potential solutions; and to update each other on progress on specific initiatives.  One of the initiatives that resulted from the Summit was the development and implementation of training programs for behavioral health providers through a partnership of the NC Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services (DMHDDSAS); the Mid-Atlantic Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC), Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 6, US Department of Veterans Affairs; the Citizen Soldier Support Program (CSSP); and the Area Health Education Center.  Federal and foundation grants have enabled the offering of workshops and online courses in military culture, post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, women veterans, and military families.

Members have been selected to represent the State in SAMHSA-sponsored Policy Academies and national initiatives (e.g., TIP on post-deployment reintegration); to serve as advisors to the NC Task Force on Behavioral Health Services for the Military and their Families, which assessed the adequacy of Medicaid- and state-funded behavioral health services available to SMVFs; and to prepare articles on the need for and potential benefits of new behavioral health initiatives for military personnel and their families for a special issue of the North Carolina Medical Journal.