SAMHSA provides technical assistance, consultation, and training to address the behavioral health needs of America’s military members and their families.
SAMHSA facilitates innovative community-based solutions that foster access to evidence-based prevention, treatment, and recovery support services for military service members, veterans, and their families at risk for or experiencing mental and/or substance use disorders by providing state-of-the-art technical assistance, consultation, and training. SAMHSA does this work in close partnership with TRICARE, Department of Defense, and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) services. Learn more about this SAMHSA strategic initiative in the report Leading Change: A Plan for SAMHSA’s Roles and Actions 2011 – 2014.
SAMHSA has established a set of core principles that guide its work to improve behavioral health services to veterans and military families:
- When appropriate, military families should have access to well-prepared civilian behavioral health care delivery systems.
- Civilian, military, and veteran service systems should be coordinated.
- Suicide prevention for military families must be implemented across systems.
- Emotional health promotion for military families is important in reducing mental and substance use disorders and weathering increased exposure to adverse events.
- Military families want and need stable housing.
SAMHSA’s efforts range across the continuum of prevention, treatment, and recovery:
- The Service Members, Veterans, And Their Families Technical Assistance (SMVF TA) Center has a mission to help states and territories strengthen behavioral health service systems supporting service members, veterans, and their families.
- The Veterans Crisis Line, 1-800-273-8255 Ext. 1, in partnership with SAMHSA's National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, connects veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring VA responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text. Veterans and their loved ones can call, chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
- Statewide Policy Academies, composed of multi-sector, state-level teams, have created plans for improving the state’s behavioral health response to veterans, service members, National Guard members, and reservists.
- The Evidence-Based Practices Resource Center is a searchable online registry of substance abuse and mental health interventions, many of which are targeted to veterans and military families.
- SAMHSA’s Co-occurring Disorders webpage for veterans provides information on integrated treatment for mental and substance use conditions. Treatment models vary and can include peer services and trauma-specific services.
- Operation Immersion, a “boot camp for health professionals,” is an effort to help civilian behavioral health providers understand military culture and help reduce discrimination associated with mental illness and substance use disorders in military populations.