August 2008

SAMHSA hosted first Policy Academy, Paving the Road Home: The National Behavioral Health Conference and Policy Academy on Returning Veterans and Their Families

North Carolina was one of ten states to be chosen to attend via a competitive application process.  The participating states developed a guiding vision, identified key priorities, and developed a strategic plan.


Conducted in Bethesda on August 11-13, 2008, the first Policy Academy, Paving the Road Home:  The National Behavioral Health Conference and Policy Academy on Returning Veterans and Their Families, addressed SAMHSA’s Strategic Initiative #3 on Military Families.  The purpose of the Policy Academy was to provide an opportunity for states to form an interagency team that was responsible for developing a sustainable strategic action plan.  The plan was expected to enhance the team’s ability “to meet the behavioral health needs of its SMVF [service members, veterans, and their families] by increasing access to appropriate care, closing gaps in the system, building the system’s capacity, increasing interagency communication/collaboration, and incorporating evidence-based and best practices.”  Representatives from one territory and nine states, including North Carolina, were selected, based on a competitive application.  NC’s team consisted of the following individuals:

  • Flo Stein, Team Leader, SSA, and Chief, Community Policy Management Section, NC Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services (DMHDDSAS); and Co-Chair, NC Focus on SMVFs
  • Denisse Ambler, MD, Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) Veteran in Afghanistan, Reservist, and child and adolescent psychiatrist
  • Peter Bernardini, Vietnam War Veteran and nurse, NC Division of Medical Assistance
  • Worth Bolton, Vietnam War Army Veteran and social work faculty member, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Wei Li Fang, Ph.D., Director for Research and Evaluation, Governor’s Institute on Substance Abuse
  • John Harris, Vietnam War Navy Veteran, Cold War Army Veteran, Army Reservist, social worker, and Military and Veterans Program Manager, NC DMHDDSAS
  • Mrs. Lil Ingram, spouse of the NC National Guard Adjutant General
  • Rep. Van Braxton, Vietnam War Veteran, businessman, farmer, and NC House of Representatives (2007-11)

At the 2008 Policy Academy, team members drafted a vision, identified key priorities for the strategic plan, and considered TA needs through the facilitation of Fred Chappelle.  Priorities were identified:  (1) build community support and resiliency for veterans and their families; (2) increase engagement for veterans, families and communities; and (3) build Provider capacity and workforce development.  TA needs included (1) strategies for identifying grants and other financial assistance; (2) assistance with working with resources; (3) how to develop the capacity to share national data; (4) youth advocacy; (5) diversity; (6) using social media and other technical support; and (7) marketing and public relations.