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MA State House Public Hearing

Train vets to Treat Vets®

In 2008, The Special Commission to Study and Investigate the Hidden Wounds of War on Massachusetts Service Members reported a high incidence of anxiety, depression, family disruption and brain injury suffered by veterans of recent conflicts and identified best practices for delivering mental health services to this population and their families. The report mirrored national studies on mental health access for veterans that concluded that, despite best efforts, veterans experience significant barriers in accessing high-quality mental health care.

In response to this critically growing need, in 2009 MSPP applied for and was approved as an Institution of Higher Learning under the Yellow Ribbon Program of the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Through this program, we have begun to attract former service personnel and reservists who are interested in careers in mental health care; there are currently five Clinical Doctoral student-veterans studying at MSPP.

In 2010, MSPP issued a report to the Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services (DVS) on the effectiveness of creating a program of behavioral health career development for returning veterans, and in July of 2011, DVS awarded MSPP a one-year contract for our new Train Vets to Treat Vets® initiative. The goals of this program, which was rolled out in August, are four-fold:

  1. To formalize and expand upon MSPP’s existing programming for and about veterans. MSPP faculty and student-veterans are meeting monthly to review the professional literature and identify the elements of a model curriculum to train veterans to treat veterans and their families at the graduate level, as well as to address the special concerns student-veterans might face;
  2. To utilize current MSPP student-veterans to reach out to and mentor returning military veterans who may have an interest in a career in behavioral health. Last year, MSPP student veterans did outreach to 78 veterans, representing all branches of the military, about TVTV and other opportunities in the mental health field. Thirty-nine veterans subsequently inquired about MSPP, and two have been accepted into our fall class.
  3. To expand direct services to at-risk and homeless veterans as part of our Field Education program. As an important component of this commitment, MSPP has created two new field placement sites and supplied the required licensed mental health supervision; the sites are the Veterans Northeast Outreach Centers in Haverhill and the New England Center for Homeless Veterans in Boston. Last year, 11 MSPP trainees provided clinical services to veterans in six different settings, providing 2,423 hours of service, including individual psychotherapy, group therapy, family therapy, and psychological testing.
  4. To develop a state-wide educational conference in collaboration with DVS, DMH and Veterans Inc. on the best practices in behavioral healthcare for veterans and their families to licensed practitioners in the state. On May 18, 2012, MSPP presented a day-long training titled "Beyond Thank You For Your Service: Meeting the Needs of Returning Veterans and Their Families." This conference featured 12 presenters, and trained 53 area mental health clinicians.

The Train Vets to Treat Vets® program at MSPP is already encouraging new veterans to consider a rewarding career in mental health care, dovetailing with the Obama administration's new initiatives to help create jobs for veterans. We are at work developing the most appropriate curriculum to educate graduate students on the needs of veterans, especially recent returnees, and we have already expanded the quality and quantity of mental health services available to the area veteran population.

Please consider helping to support this leading edge initiative!

With your help, we can provide additional, much-needed scholarship support to veterans who might not otherwise be able to enroll at MSPP. We can expand our outreach efforts to potential student-veterans, as well as our direct mental health services to at-risk area vets. Your contribution to our timely Yellow Ribbon Fund is fully tax-deductible, and provides match funding towards our award from the Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services.

For more information about Train Vets to Treat Vets, please contact Dr. Sonia Suri at sonia_suri@mspp.edu or call 617-327-6777 x1419. For Admissions information about our graduate programs, please email admissions@mspp.edu or call 617-327-6777 x1506 or x1507.

To make a donation to support this initiative, contact Molly Brown, at 617-327-6777 x1231 or email molly_brown@mspp.edu, or go to our contribution page.

Updated 6/10/14

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