In 1992 the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) was established and began its work to help address the nation’s behavioral health needs – including those of our nation’s military service members, veterans and their families.
Meeting the behavioral health needs of the women and men of the armed forces, veterans and their families is one of our nation’s most important challenges – and it is one that is not new. Thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines return from combat with significant behavioral health needs and SAMHSA has made addressing these needs one of its top priorities.
“SAMHSA is building on its proud 20 year tradition of helping people who have sacrificed so much to ensure the freedom and well-being of all Americans,” said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “It is essential that the nation help ensure that these men, women and their families have access to any needed behavioral health services so that they will be able to enjoy the long, fulfilled lives they so richly deserve.”
The SAMHSA Military Families Initiative supports America’s service men and women – Active Duty, National Guard, Reserve, and Veteran—together with their families and communities by leading efforts to ensure that needed behavioral health services are accessible and that treatment outcomes are positive. SAMHSA, through its grants and resources encourages states, territories and tribes to become culturally competent and support the behavioral health needs of this population. The four goals of the SAMHSA Military Families Strategic Initiative include:
Improving military families’ access to community-based behavioral health care through coordination among SAMHSA, TRICARE (the military’s healthcare system), the Department of Defense, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Improving the quality of behavioral health-focused prevention, treatment, and recovery support services by helping providers respond to the needs within the military family culture.
Promoting the behavioral health of military families with programs and evidence-based practices that support their resilience and emotional health.
Developing an effective and seamless behavioral health services system for military families through coordination of policies and resources across federal, national, state, territorial, tribal, and local organizations.
Striving to achieve these goals, SAMHSA developed and distributed a TRICARE credentialing resource packet for behavioral health practitioners interested in becoming certified to receive TRICARE reimbursement. To assist state, territory, and tribes with their efforts to effectively support the behavioral health needs of the military, veterans, and their families, SAMHSA established a technical assistance center. In addition, SAMHSA has hosted three Service Member, Veterans, and their Family Policy Academies to assist states, territories and tribes with creating strategic plans to help integrate behavioral health care services to military members, veterans and their families. To date, 23 states, two territories, and the District of Columbia have completed the policy academy.
As it celebrates 20 years of service, SAMHSA will apply the lessons learned and successes of its Military Families initiatives to its other programs to help other communities – including those with special needs. Through all of these efforts SAMHSA will honor its past by continuing its mission of promoting mental health and substance abuse prevention and treatment services benefiting individuals and communities throughout the country.
SAMHSA is a public health agency within the Department of Health and Human Services. Its mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.