As Co-Directors of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Service Members, Veterans, and their Families Technical Assistance (SAMHSA’s SMVF TA) Center, we are pleased and proud of the work that is being done in states, territories, and communities across our nation to develop and implement strategies and practices that make an immediate and lasting impact on the wellness of those who are serving or who have served in the military services and those who care for them. Over the last 5 years, our TA Center’s staff and partners have engaged with interagency teams across 55 states and territories to support their efforts both broadly and within specific federal initiatives, including SAMHSA’s Crisis Intercept Mapping (CIM) for Suicide Prevention and the collaborative work with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and SAMHSA’s Governor’s and Mayor’s Challenges to Prevent Suicide Among SMVF.

One high point for our TA Center team came in the fall of 2021 when the White House released its public health strategy on Reducing Military and Veteran Suicide, which referenced both SAMHSA’s CIM initiative and the Governor’s Challenge as key elements in supporting its priority goals in SMVF suicide prevention.

Although originally a very low point, the turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 (and beyond), in retrospect, helped unify our TA Center team. Collectively, we not only needed to adapt to this global crisis personally but then had to figure out how to meet the needs of our state and community teams in this new virtual environment. We worked to continue the important work of preventing SMVF suicide while new public health priorities competed for everyone’s time and energy. Again, through the efforts of staff and partners, the work of the Governor’s Challenge and CIM teams continued throughout the course of the pandemic to impressive success.

As we look to the future, we are excited and encouraged to continue working with dedicated teams to implement programs that are making a demonstrable impact on the lives of those who answered our nation’s call to duty. We are appreciative and humbled to have the opportunity to partner with them in this extremely important work and look forward to supporting them and celebrating their successes for many years to come.

Like what you’ve read? Sign up to receive the monthly SMVF Topics in the News!