Returning Veterans and Behavioral Health
“Service members have a very strong identification with strength,” said plenary speaker Marine Sergeant Dan Taslitz, who suffered accidental brain injury in Iraq from carbon monoxide after Marine combat and reconnaissance service. “My identity was shattered. I was no longer a strong athlete and leader,” Mr. Taslitz explained. But resilience was a strong element in his recovery. “It opens the door to support,” he added.
“The Army’s new guidance is to make it a sign of strength, not weakness, to come forward to seek mental health care,” General Graham said.
He is working with his officers and noncommissioned officers at Fort Carson to create a healthy climate where soldiers will seek help without fear that it could hurt their careers. The number of individuals at Fort Carson coming forward for help has increased, he said. “We believe we are on the right track.”
Following the public conference day, SAMHSA convened a 2-day Policy Academy for teams from nine states and one territory.
By invitation after a brief competition nationwide, those included Florida, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and Washington, as well as American Samoa.
Team members represented state governments, mental health and substance abuse providers, veterans and faith-based organizations, and family members.
After her plenary presentation, Major Davina French (left), joins Dr. Elizabeth Lopez (right), Chief of SAMHSA’s Homelessness Services Branch, for a photo. Photo by Paola Sanmartin
Their goal? A seamless system of care for returning veterans and their families in their home states. A list of challenges to helping veterans included plans for employment, universal health coverage, community coalitions, and support for children and families.
Recommendations from the Policy Academy will be available within 60 days. State plans will be reviewed by SAMHSA, the DoD, and the VA.
For more information as it becomes available on the Policy Academy, visit www.samhsa.gov/vets. For a comprehensive list of resources for returning veterans and their families, see Resources for Veterans.