Maryland is first state in the nation to launch online program to connect veterans with behavioral health services
ANNAPOLIS (April 3, 2009) Maryland Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown on Tuesday, March 31, joined representatives of the public mental health industry and veterans affairs as Maryland became the first state in the nation to launch a Network of Care Website devoted to the states veterans. The Maryland Veterans Network of Care portal is an on-line resource that provides simple and fast access to information on local, state and national behavioral health services available to veterans. The portal is part of Network of Care online community.
We ask a great deal of our military families and our veterans and for that we owe them a debt of gratitude. When we saw men and women falling through the cracks of a large and out dated federal VA system, we didnt point fingers. We chose to act, Lt. Governor Brown said. Marylands Commitment to Veterans initiative is a national model for what states can do to improve veteran services, especially behavioral health services. We are proud to be the first state in America to launch the Veterans Network of Care portal. We hope that other states follow our example and make veterans health a leading priority.
Last year, the OMalley-Brown administration introduced to the General Assembly one of the most comprehensive veterans packages in the nation. The cornerstone of the package was the Veterans Behavioral Health Initiative that set aside $2.3 million for behavioral health services for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. The initiative provides funding for four regional resource coordinators who help direct behavioral health services to veterans in need. The administration introduced a bill this year that will expand the Veterans Behavioral Health Initiative to include all veterans. Brown is working closely with leaders in the General Assembly to protect funding for this program.
Many veterans do not sign up for services through the VA, and their families dont know where to turn for help, said Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary John M. Colmers. The Veterans Network of Care portal is a comprehensive Website that includes information to help veterans find and sign up for these services.
Studies show that as many as one out of three veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffers from mental health problems, including traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. Of those veterans, more than two out of three do not receive the proper medical attention that is necessary. Other studies have found that todays returning veterans have a significantly higher rate of suicide than veterans from previous conflicts.
The Veterans Network of Care portal will serve as a bridge between federal, state and local services available for veterans. As a unique, new outreach and information hub it will serve all of Marylands veterans regardless of their geographic location, said Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary Wilbert Forbes.
Found at www.mdveterans.networkofcare.org, Marylands Veterans Network of Care portal builds on the success of the states Network of Care site which launched last year. It is hosted by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH), with assistance from the state Mental Health Association, National Alliance on Mental Illness-Maryland, On Our Own of Maryland and the Maryland Association of Core Service Agencies. DHMH is in the fourth year of a five-year $13.7 million federal grant to implement transformation initiatives in mental health care.
The Network of Care community allows consumers to have a lead role in addressing their needs for behavioral health services, and also allows them to store medical records, advance directives and personal wellness plans in a password-protected personal folder. The site also contains a library of mental health articles, links to support and advocacy organizations, and reports on legislation.
This is a flexible system that can be updated within 24 hours, said Renata J. Henry, DHMH Deputy Secretary for Behavioral Health and Disabilities. It is compatible with the 2-1-1 system and is available to anyone, including providers and those who staff crisis response systems.
The Network of Care online community was developed by Trilogy Integrated Resources. Californias Network of Care system was showcased by the Presidents New Freedom Commission in 2003 as a model program to help transform mental health care in the nation and is recognized as a leading force in the transformation of mental health care from a system that relied primarily on clinical treatment to one that empowers an individual to make decisions regarding his or her care.
We were so proud to be able to work with both the veterans and mental health leadership of Maryland to develop this remarkable resource for our returning soldiers, said Trilogy president Bruce Bronzan. Maryland now has the most advanced and comprehensive, locally-based information resource for veterans and their families in the country.
More information about Marylands main Network of Care Web site is available by clicking on Maryland found through the Mental/Behavioral Health link at www.networkofcare.org.
Source: Office of Maryland Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown