In Addition

In addition to attending Policy Academies hosted by SAMHSA, North Carolina has been the beneficiary of SAMHSA technical assistance and has been provided opportunities to participate in SAMHSA hosted learning communities.


State-specific Technical Assistance
North Carolina has been the beneficiary of two state-specific TA workshops and a telephone consultation.  Led by Jamie Hart, Ph.D., MPH, on March 23, 2011, the first workshop was on minority outreach.  The NC team selected this topic due to the large percentage (23.7%) of veterans of minority groups. Minority veterans tended not to access behavioral health services, and when they did, they usually went to community providers, not the VA.  The following individuals participated:

  • Flo Stein, Team Leader, SSA, and Chief, Community Policy Management Section, NC Division of DMHDDSAS; and Co-Chair, NC Focus on SMVFs
  • Kimberly Alexander-Bratcher MPH, Project Director and Research Associate, North Carolina Institute of Medicine
  • Renée Brotherton, Family Programs, North Carolina National Guard
  • Wei Li Fang, Ph.D., Director for Research and Evaluation, Governor’s Institute on Substance Abuse
  • George Hill, Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities
  • Joan Kaye, Community Policy Management, NC DMHDDSAS
  • Thea Monet, Executive Director, Old North State Medical Society
  • Stephanie Nissen, State Behavioral Health Programs Director, North Carolina National Guard
  • Kristy Straits-Tröster, Ph.D., Mid-Atlantic Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC), Veterans Integrated Service Network 6, US Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Jody Zabel, SMVF TA Center

At the March TA session, the team considered the following outreach strategies:  (1) promoting the use of behavioral health benefits, programs, and services; (2) educating and sensitizing staff on the needs of SMVFs; (3) targeting outreach through community networks; and (4) advocating on behalf of SMVFs to identify gaps in services and make recommendations for improvement.  Essential to all outreach strategies is the need to develop tailored messages and to work with partners to distribute the messaging.

Facilitated by Donna Aligata of the SMVF TA Center on July 23, 2012, the second workshop focused on peer support services.  Attendees included the following individuals:

  • Flo Stein, Team Leader, SSA, and Chief, Community Policy Management Section, NC Division of DMHDDSAS; and Co-Chair, NC Focus on SMVFs
  • Auther Berry, Desert Storm/Desert Shield Air Force Veteran, Department of Human Services, DTC
  • Ken Blackman, Ph.D., Vietnam War Air Force Veteran, Warren County
  • Brendon Comer, therapist, Orange County Partnership for Young Children
  • Emery Cowan, Best Practice and Community Innovations, NC DMHDDSAS
  • Barbara Dorsett, Ed.D., Operation Recovery, Mecklenburg County
  • Wei Li Fang, Ph.D., Director for Research and Evaluation, Governor’s Institute on Substance Abuse
  • Bob Goodale, Director, Citizen Soldier Support Program
  • Samuel Hargrove, Desert Storm/Desert Shield Army Veteran and NC Chapter of NAMI
  • John Harris, Vietnam War Navy Veteran, Cold War Army Veteran, Army Reservist, social worker, and Military and Veterans Program Manager, NC DMHDDSAS
  • Harold Kudler, MD, Associate Director, MIRECC, VISN 6, US Department of VA; Associate Clinical Professor, Duke University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences; and Co-Chair, NC Focus on SMVFs
  • Bob Kurtz, Ph.D., Justice Systems Innovations, NC DMHDDSAS
  • Lisa Loftonberry, EAP, U.S. Army at Fort Bragg
  • Heather McAllister, Governor’s Institute on Substance Abuse
  • Michael McMichael, Desert Storm/Desert Shield Army Veteran, Veterans Mental Health, Durham VAMC
  • Jessica Meed, Citizen Soldier Support Program
  • Joe Rapley, Desert Storm/Desert Shield Navy Veteran, Operation Recovery, Mecklenburg County
  • Wes Rider, Consumer Empowerment Team, NC DMHDDSAS
  • Belivia Spaulding, NC Division of Social Services
  • Jody Zabel, SMVF TA Center

Participants identified their priority as increasing or expanding peer-to-peer programs to increase access to services for SMVFs.  They discussed the need to connect the certified peer specialists across the state and to work closely with the Old North State Medical Society in order to outreach to minority veterans.  Strategies included taking a tiered approach by training peer volunteers; developing and sustaining partnerships; collecting data on where peers are located in order to map their locations; identifying ways to support peers; and determining strategies for integrating peers into the existing system of care.

On October 19, 2012, a telephone consultation occurred as a result of the Policy Academy that Ms. Stein attended the previous month.  At the Policy Academy, Ray Switzer, Program Manager of Homeless Programs, Washington (WA) State Department of Veterans Affairs, had presented on the process of developing memoranda of understanding (MOUs) and how these MOUs had resulted in policy and legislative changes that had benefitted veterans in their state.  Consultants on the call included staff from the WA State Department of Veterans Affairs and the SMVF TA Center:

  • Flo Stein, Team Leader, SSA, and Chief, Community Policy Management Section, NC Division of DMHDDSAS; and Co-Chair, NC Focus on SMVFs
  • Wei Li Fang, Ph.D., Director for Research and Evaluation, Governor’s Institute on Substance Abuse
  • COL Mary Forbes, WA State Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Gregg Goodale, SMVF TA Center
  • Joan Kaye, Community Policy Management, NC DMHDDSAS
  • John Lee, Director, WA State Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Jody Zabel, SMVF TA Center

COL Forbes used the homelessness project in WA State as the example of what occurred when MOUs were developed between the WA State Department of Veterans Affairs, VISN 20 of the US Department of Veterans Affairs, the WA Housing Trust Fund, local housing authorities, and county commissioners/executives.  Information sharing agreements with other agencies such as the WA Department of Corrections, the WA Department of Justice, the WA Employment Security Department, and the Veteran Health Administration were also promoted as a way to share data about individual veterans, thereby assisting them in their efforts to secure stable and affordable housing.  These agreements have also facilitated the development of regional programs based on trend data.  Mr. Lee noted that they are in the process of building capacity at the local level, through a peer-to-peer initiative.  They have a grant from Americorps, and through their Vet Corps, they have 50 veterans placed at community colleges and universities.

In September 2013, the North Carolina team participated in two conference calls with Dr. Greg Leskin, National Child Traumatic Stress Network; Tom Winkel, Arizona Military/Veteran Resource Network; and Michelle Cleary, Technical Assistance Center, to discuss issues facing military families in the State. The NC team consisted of the following individuals:

  • Flo Stein, NC Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services
  • Teresa Cherry, USO-North Carolina
  • Diane Coffill, NC National Guard
  • John Curry, Ph.D., Durham VA Medical Center
  • Li Fang, Ph.D., Governor’s Institute on Substance Abuse
  • Karen Goetz, Duke University Evidence-based Practice Implementation Center
  • Jenny Hartsock, Office of Sen. Kay Hagan
  • Kelly Henry, Blue Star Families Program
  • Christina Hicks, Community Blueprint
  • Leanna Jackson, Reserve Officers Association
  • Catherine Joyner, NC Department of Public Health
  • Claudia Kearney, NC State University Center for Family and Community Engagement
  • Jenny King, NC State University Center for Family and Community Engagement
  • Lisa Loften-Berry, US Army Employee Assistance Program
  • Venus Malloy, US Army
  • Heather McAllister, NC Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services
  • Joan Pennell, Ph.D., NC State University Center for Family and Community Engagement
  • Terri Reichert, NC Division of Social Services
  • Belivia Spaulding, NC Division of Social Services
  • Catherine Woyee-Jones, Blue Star Families Program of North Carolina

Participants identified three needs for military families: more coordinated support for military families at local and state levels; connecting military families to appropriate resources; and more military family involvement (e.g., focus groups, town halls). Potential strategies included (1) to create an environment that builds on relationships and fosters collaboration (sharing vs. education) among individuals and agencies/ organizations and maximizes the most effective way of delivering services and supports; (2) to recognize military spouses for their commitment and hard work; and (3) to have a neutral platform from which to launch events (e.g., Policy Academy, Points of Light) to avoid ownership and competition.

The NC Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services; the NC National Guard; and the Governor’s Institute on Substance Abuse has embarked on a new initiative to document what works and what does not for military families in the State. Focus groups will be conducted in six locations across the State, with findings serving as the basis of a survey to be administered to military family members. Results of the focus groups and surveys will be presented at a statewide conference on March 10, 2015 in Raleigh.

In addition to receiving technical assistance, NC team members have also provided TA through consultation calls to other states.  Mr. Harris participated in a TA call on post-deployment community reintegration to South Carolina on August 31, 2011. He presented the NC experience on issues such as collaboration, outreach, employment, peer-to-peer programming, and working with faith communities.  Ms. Stein and Diana Williams, Director, Behavioral Health Coordinating Center at the Altarum Institute, and Director, Access to Recovery Technical Assistance Center grant, presented on Preventing Substance Abuse and Supporting Recovery Among SMVF on June 7, 2012.  They identified strategies to provide culturally appropriate prevention and recovery supports for SMVF; suggested methods for involving State and community recovery-oriented partners; and noted approaches for designing services that promote access to recovery supports.

On March 27, 2013, Mr. Harris, Daniel O’Brien-Mazza, M.S., Director of Peer Support Services, US Department of Veterans Affairs, and William White, M.A., Emeritus Senior Research Consultant, Chestnut Health Systems/Lighthouse Institute led a webinar, Fostering and Expanding Peer Support Services for Service Members, Veterans, and their Families.  The webinar addressed opportunities for peer support services in relation to SMVFs; ethical considerations and decision points for developing SMVF peer models; roles and responsibilities of SMVF peers; and resources and next steps for developing peer support services.  Discussion also focused on best practice resources and tools and how communities can build on commonalities.

Learning Communities
In 2012, the SMVF TA Center launched a series of learning communities tied to a single topic related to services and systems change for SMVFs.  Topics were based on Policy Academy States’ requests for technical assistance from the TA Center.  The format of the learning communities was similar:  a lead expert who provided didactic information on the topic through an interactive webinar; the provision of PowerPoint presentations, handouts, and other resources; a free flow of discussion where peers from different states shared their experiences; a question-and-answer period; the assistance from technical experts in the design of strategies for implementing strategic action plans; and the opportunity to apply the learned material through homework assignments.  Invitations to join the learning communities were issued to all states that had participated in a Policy Academy.

One or more North Carolina team members participated in the following learning communities:

  • Working Together to Prevent Intimate Partner Violence:  Systems Serving Service Members, Veterans, and Their Families, by Navy Captain (Retired) Glenna Tinney, MSW, DCSW, Military Advocacy Program Coordinator, Battered Women’s Justice Project, on April 30, 2012
  • Data Sharing and Integration, by Jamie Taylor, The Cloudburst Group, on May 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29, 2012
  • Jail Diversion Programs for Justice-Involved Service Members, by Dan Abreu, MS, CRC, LMHC, SAMHSA National GAINS Center, on May 21, June 4, and July 16, 2012
  • Meeting the Behavioral Health Needs of Diverse Service Members, Veterans, and Their Families by Jamie Hart, Ph.D., MPH, on May 25 and June 1, 2012
  • Mapping County-level Veteran Status Data, by Jamie Taylor, The Cloudburst Group, on July 10 and 17, 2012
  • Data Sharing/Data Integration, by Jamie Taylor, The Cloudburst Group, on February 27 and March 6 and 13, 2013
  • Suicide Prevention, by Julie Ebin, Ed.M., and Sheila Krishnan, M.P.H., on May 22, June 5, and June 19, 2013
  • Building Military/Community Partnerships to Serve Military and Veteran Families and Their Children, by Gregory Leskin, Ph.D. on July 18 and 25 and August 1 and 8, 2013
  • Rural Strategies by Hilda Heady and February 13 and 19, 2014
  • Technology by Izzy Abbass, Geoff Wool, Rachel Shumaker, Ryan Luchau, Brian Belz, Kathy Cook, and Paul Conrad on June 12, 19, and 26, 2014
  • Military and Veterans’ Families Implementation Academy Data Learning Community by Jamie Taylor, Ph.D. on August 21 and 25, 2014