Mental Health Initiative for Veterans to Take Next Step
For Tony Solomon, an Army veteran turned behavioral health advocate, a newly announced state initiative is just what Texas needs to focus on the coordination of mental health care programs for veterans.
“It’s about how can we tackle one or two or three issues with several agencies working together,” said Solomon, director of the Harris County Veterans Behavioral Health Initiative, whose mission is to connect veterans and their families with local, state and federal resources.
Solomon is one of more than 50 people who this week will learn how to apply for grants during the pilot phase of the Texas Veterans Initiative — a joint effort between the state and a nonprofit to provide state matching funds to local mental health efforts benefiting veterans.
Better coordination among agencies is key to ensuring that veterans receive consistent care as they seek help from the VA and outside providers, Solomon said.
Last month, Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus laid out the Texas Veterans Initiative, which is starting with a $1 million investment from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to match local and private funds to expand and better coordinate mental health care services in communities.
“This unique public-private partnership represents an opportunity for the State of Texas, private donors and local communities to work together to create enduring solutions for addressing mental health needs for Texas veterans and their families,” Perry said in a November news release on the initiative.
While the Health and Human Services Commission is putting up the investment, the nonprofit Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute will oversee the projects funded by the initiative and evaluate their efficiency.
“Over the last couple of years, we’ve looked at how to use state resources more to support veterans’ health and mental health programs given some of the issues we’ve had at the federal level with those services,” HHSC spokeswoman Stephanie Goodman said. “So this is another way to do that.”
Tom Luce, the Meadows Institute’s CEO, said there has been “a great deal of interest” in the initiative from groups around the state.
In a scheduled webinar Thursday for potential applicants, Luce will lay out the rules for proposals. The deadline to submit proposals is Jan. 15, with grantees to be notified by March 1.