The Road to Recovery - VA Northern California Health Care System
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VA Northern California Health Care System

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The Road to Recovery

Mental Health Summit for Veterans

VA Mental Health Summit for Veterans: The Road to Recovery

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Road to Recovery

VA Mental Health Summit for Veterans


VA Northern California Health Care System’s Mental Health Summit was held this week as part of a nationwide initiative to bring community and VA providers together to serve the needs of Veterans locally.


“Our goal is to engage key community leaders to help with Veteran access to mental health services,” said Dr. Ali Kazim, associate chief of staff for Mental Health Service, VA Northern California Health Care System. “We know VA cannot provide these services alone and the best way to help our Veterans is partnering with the community.”


The summit is part of VA’s effort to educate the public about the mental health needs of our warriors and how critical community partners are helping treat and assess Veterans who may be in need. This year’s collaboration will focus on Peer Support and Community Integration: the Road to Recovery with Wounded Warrior Project. 


The Mental Health Summit will host key supporters from the Sacramento area including local civic and congressional politicians, county mental health departments, local health care, education institutions, and Veteran Organizations.




The aggregate response of participants in the MH Summit process was positive and strikingly similar to that obtained in FY 2013. Key quantitative FY 2014 findings are: 

  • The vast majority of respondents (>80%) reported a better understanding of relevant VA and community services

  • Eighty percent of respondents indicated awareness of their VA Community Mental Health Point of Contact (VA MH POC).  MH POCs were appointed in response to 2013 Summit findings and serve as a primary mechanism for improving coordination of care

  • A majority positively endorsed a variety of beneficial outcomes including:

o          Improved military cultural competence (identified as a prime need in FY 2013), and;

o          Widespread confidence in strengthened VA-Community relationships (80% endorsement)

  • More than half of all respondents agreed that the following beneficial outcomes were developed and sustained through the Summit process:

o          Opportunities for Veteran-centered training

o          Enhanced understanding of relevant community programs

o          Collaborations to improve Veteran mental health; and,

o          Improved coordination of care

  • A large majority of respondents (84%) agreed that, on the basis of the Summits, they would be more likely to work with VA and community organizations to improve the care of Veterans and Veterans’ families and that tangible methods for accomplishing this goal for Veterans were identified this year (78%).

  • Results pertaining to important gaps in care were mostly positive with more than half of respondents indicating that the MH Summit process was addressing:

o          Lack of warm handoffs between programs

o          Lack of capacity in VA or community systems

o          Reluctance to seek help among patients 

  • Among the identified gaps in care, respondents were most positive that the following were being addressed:

o          Lack of knowledge about VA eligibility/benefits (75% agreement)

o          Lack of services for family members of the Veteran (67% agreement) (This item had been identified as an area of need in FY 2013)

  • With regard to persisting gaps:

  • Only a minority of respondents (≤ 40%) was confident that all community partners would identify Veterans and their family members as a standard practice after the Summits or that the Summit process was addressing a lack of service coordination for older adults or the inability to share medical records between VA and community health systems

  • Although Veteran Families were emphasized in FY 2014 programming (based on concerns raised in FY 2013) and two-thirds of participants indicated that a lack of services for family members was being addressed by the Summit process, specific benefits for families were again endorsed at significantly lower rates than for Veterans themselves

  • More than half of those involved indicated their programs were or would be listed in the National Resource Directory (NRD), VA and DoD’s chief mechanism for developing a national, comprehensive catalogue of resources for Veterans and their families

  • Participants continued to express a near-unanimous (87%) desire to attend another VA Community Mental Health Summit


VANCHCS Mental Health Community Assessment Pre-Summit Findings:

  • Common concerns regarding Veteran’s unmet needs included housing, employment, VA Benefits and Mental Health Access/timeliness

  • The VA has National Initiatives to decrease homelessness, increase employment and improve access

Average wait times are less than 14 days for new Mental Health patients at VANCHCS


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