News, events, and resources
News, events, and resources
Topics in the News
May 2020
May is Military Appreciation Month and SAMHSA’s Service Members, Veterans, and their Families (SMVF) Technical Assistance (TA) Center is eager to acknowledge the ongoing dedication of our military and their families, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As communities across the country are under shelter in place orders to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, National Guard members and active duty service members are once again on the front lines, bravely confronting this public health crisis to save lives and protect the health and safety of our Nation.
National Guard members have been mobilized in every state, three territories, and the District of Columbia. According to the Military Times, 43,700 Air and Army National Guard members are currently supporting the COVID-19 response, and that number is increasing almost daily. At the same time, Army Times reports that about 25,000 Army Veterans have volunteered to return to service to support the COVID-19 response, and the Navy is also encouraging sailors to extend enlistments and for those who have separated to return to service (U.S. Navy).
In addition, Veteran service organizations (VSOs) are also stepping up to support and protect our communities; one of these organizations is Team Rubicon. Team Rubicon serves communities by mobilizing Veterans to continue their service, leveraging their skills and experience to help people prepare, respond, and recover from disasters and humanitarian crises. Currently, Team Rubicon volunteers are providing essential assistance to vulnerable populations that have been impacted by COVID-19. Many other VSOs are working hard to make a difference during this crisis. Below are links to find out more about what is happening and how you can get involved.

While our SMVF are at physical risk during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital to attend to and support their behavioral health needs. Whether serving on the front lines to provide essential services or staying at home to help to flatten the curve, there are resources available. SAMHSA understands the challenges posed by the current crisis and is providing guidance and resources to assist individuals, providers, communities, and states across the country and is continuing to grow its COVID-19-related behavioral health resources each week. Here are some additional resources available to help assist SMVF with their behavioral health needs.

VA: Mental Health and Well-Being During the COVID-19 Outbreak

This U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) webpage provides information on topics such as staying connected, mitigating anxiety and depression, avoiding too much exposure to the news, and staying informed.

Mental Health of America: Military Mental Health

Mental Health America provides information to help to break down the stigma of mental health issues among SMVF and medical staff to ensure that a higher number of military families receive the prompt and high-quality care they deserve.

Military One Source: Service Providers & Leaders

Serving the military community well means having access to the best resources. Service members, military spouses, and military children have unique needs in a continually changing landscape. Military OneSource has information, documents, and products that will let you extend your helping hand with confidence.

Red Cross: Flattening the Curve and Your Stress—Military Mental Health Experts Explain How

The American Red Cross provides online COVID-19 classes for military and Veteran communities.
If you are unable to locate the resources you need, please contact the SMVF TA Center. Keep reading for upcoming events, news, and additional resources.

Honor Memorial Day Virtually

This year, Memorial Day will be celebrated on Monday, May 25, 2020. With many in-person Memorial Day events canceled this year, SAMHSA’s SMVF TA Center encourages you to find creative ways to celebrate and honor those who lost their lives in service to the Nation. It is important to reflect on and grieve the service members who made the ultimate sacrifice and to express our appreciation and respect to military and Veteran families who have lost a loved one. Many organizations and state departments of Veterans Affairs are hosting virtual events to honor those we lost; search your local listings to find a virtual event in your area.
Calendar of Events

SMVF TA Center Webinar: Implementing Best Practices and Improving Collaboration for Crisis Care and Suicide Prevention among High-Risk SMVF

June 10, 2020, 1:30–3:00 p.m. ET
SAMHSA’s SMVF TA Center welcomes you to join a webinar focused on the core elements of the SMVF Crisis Intercept Map. The process of intercept mapping helps community stakeholders to visualize gaps, recognize opportunities, and strengthen coordination across local agencies and organizations. Screening for SMVF status and suicide risk early can change the trajectory of overload on our emergency response systems by increasing access to upstream support and diverting hospital emergency department visits to alternate care.

VA’s Mental Health Month Campaign, “Now Is the Time”

May 1–31, 2020
Throughout May, VA is encouraging Veterans to take the first step—or the next step—in their mental health journey. VA is encouraging Veterans and their families throughout the month to visit the Make the Connection website to learn more about mental health resources and hear stories of recovery from other Veterans. VA has also created a toolkit of materials, including social media content, newsletter articles, and digital graphics.

#MoreThanEverBefore National Challenge

May 1–31, 2020
Our partners at the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS) Office have created a social media challenge to share strategies that enhance emotional well-being. Please review this campaign and share it with your social networks as you are able.

Webinar: Clinical Innovations in Telehealth—Telehealth and Suicide Care

May 19, 2020, 10:00 a.m. PT
Current conditions demand finding ways to safely work with suicidal individuals using telehealth. This webinar, co-hosted by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, will provide pragmatic guidance for evaluating and managing suicide risk via telehealth. In particular, adaptations to do remote screening and risk assessment will be discussed as well as how to effectively conduct safety planning with people at risk. Resources to immediately implement these strategies will be shared. Certificates of completion are available.

Webinar: Introduction to the Department of Defense Family Advocacy Program

May 27, 2020, 2:00–3:00 p.m. ET
There are several systems and programs that Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) should be familiar with to effectively serve children in military families. This webinar provides CACs with an introductory orientation to the first of those key military programs—the U.S. Department of Defense Family Advocacy Program (FAP). Participants will learn about the role and focus of FAP, reporting requirements, coordinated community response, and FAP case process. A general overview will be provided by a representative from the Office of the Secretary of Defense followed service-specific introductions by representatives from the U.S. Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, and Navy FAP headquarters. The live webinar will allow an opportunity for questions and answers.

Treatment, Recovery, and Workforce Support Grant

Application deadline: June 1, 2020
SAMHSA, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, is accepting applications for fiscal year 2020 Treatment, Recovery, and Workforce Support grants. The purpose of this program is to implement evidence-based programs to support individuals in substance use disorder treatment and recovery to live independently and participate in the workforce. To achieve this objective, recipients must coordinate, as applicable, with Indian tribes or tribal organizations, state and local workforce development boards, lead state agencies responsible for a workforce-investment activity, and state agencies responsible for carrying out substance use disorder prevention and treatment programs.

Pioneering Ideas Funding Opportunity: Exploring the Future to Build a Culture of Health

Application deadline: Rolling deadline
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is providing an opportunity to get funding. RWJF wants to hear from scientists, anthropologists, artists, urban planners, community leaders—anyone, anywhere who has a new or unconventional idea that could alter the trajectory of health and improve health equity and well-being for generations to come. The changes RWJF seeks diverse perspectives and ideas that cannot be accomplished by any one person, organization, or sector.

Psych Armor Course: Unit Stabilization after Suicide Loss

Rolling enrollment
ARMY STARRS research suggests that every completed suicide in a military unit heightens the risk of attempts by other members of the same unit. Suicide loss has many complicating factors that can hamper the healing process, increase risk, and interfere with readiness for duty. A proactive, comprehensive postvention plan and response that includes “safe messaging” can not only stabilize a unit, but it can help rebuild a culture that better supports suicide prevention, mental health, and wellness. In this course, “Unit Stabilization After Suicide Loss,” Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) Vice President and suicide survivor Kim Ruocco shares how the TAPS Postvention Model of Support can be applied to advising military leaders following the suicide loss of service members in active-duty military units.

News Out of Illinois, a 2020 Governor’s Challenge State

Stephanie Kifowit, a former Marine, the state representative from Oswego, and chairwoman of the Illinois House Veterans Affairs Committee, heads the state’s Veterans Suicide Prevention Task Force. In addition, she sits on the committee of a “Governor’s Challenge” from VA and SAMHSA that wants to bring down the number of national Veteran suicides. At its next meeting, this committee will begin looking at the data now available on suicides of Veterans since a 2018 law mandated it must be reported by coroners’ offices.

Military Kids, Teens Can Now Access Free Telehealth Counseling

A new Military OneSource rule allows military kids and teens to access free non-medical counseling via telehealth as an alternative to in-person visits. In the past, telehealth was available only to adult users of the Military OneSource benefit, which connects eligible users with 12 free non-medical counseling visits per authorization. Users under 18 were previously limited to in-person support.

Veterans’ Remote Mental Health Appointments Skyrocket Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Remote mental health care use among VA patients jumped dramatically last month as normal medical care appointments were disrupted, and Veterans were forced into self-isolation because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

VA, Facebook, and American Red Cross Provide Portal Video Calling Devices to Veterans, Caregivers, and Families

VA began making Portal from Facebook devices available to Veterans and their caregivers and families, to reduce isolation and improve social connectedness at home. VA partnered with Facebook to provide more than 7,400 devices, while the American Red Cross Military Veteran Caregiver Network will store and ship them in pairs to qualifying Veterans, along with their caregivers or families.

Mobile Apps: COVID Coach

The Mobile Mental Health Team at the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has released COVID Coach, a new app for Veterans, service members, and the general public. COVID Coach is designed to help build resilience, manage stress, and increase well-being during this crisis. The app is free and secure, and it helps connect users to essential resources for coping and adapting during the COVID-19 pandemic. Download from the Apple App Store today. The Android version is pending release and should be available soon. For other apps from the VA, visit the Mobile Apps page.
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SAMHSA’s Service Members, Veterans, and their Families Technical Assistance (SMVF TA) Center is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Disclaimer: SAMHSA’s SMVF TA Center develops and distributes Newsletters with support from SAMHSA. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official view of SAMHSA or HHS.

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