In the 10 years since the September 11th attacks, more than 2 million United States troops have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. As we approach Veteran’s Day it is important to remember that although most of our returning service men and women successfully reintegrate into civilian life, many are unable to transition easily as a result of frequent deployments, separations from family, exposure to combat and sustained injuries.
Historically, military members, veterans and their families have relied on the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) for help, and while they still do, other parts of the Federal government are dedicating resources to increase awareness and access to services, and provide a safety net that will help former and current military members and their families. Recognizing the growing needs of this population, SAMHSA is focusing some of its resources to address the increasing behavioral health needs of veterans through its Military Families Strategic Initiative.
Over the past year SAMHSA has worked in partnership with DoD and the VA in a number of different activities; including:
- Policy Academy – SAMHSA has hosted two policy academies and in December is hosting a third, that brings State leadership together with representation from Substance Abuse, Mental Health, National Guard, DVA and other interested parties to create a strategic plan for supporting military, veterans, and their families with their behavioral health needs.
- Military Culture Inclusion – SAMHSA is working with many professional organizations (e.g. American Psychological Association, Council on Social Work) to ensure military culture is embedded into professional training and continuing education.
- Grantee Outreach – SAMHSA is leveraging existing block and discretionary grants to encourage applicants to support this population. In fiscal year 2011, 51.3% of funded discretionary grants plan to serve military personnel, their families, and/or veterans.
SAMHSA recognizes the importance of supporting those individuals who have bravely served our country. SAMHSA continues to explore new ways to assist States and communities fulfill their desire to support veterans with their behavioral health needs.
As we celebrate Veteran’s Day this year, please remember the sacrifice our U.S. service members have made and thank them for their dedicated service.
 President’s Report: Strengthening our Military Families, January 2011 <http://www.defense.gov/home/features/2011/0111_initiative/strengthening_our_military_january_2011.pdf>