2012-2013 ANNUAL V.A.C.B.H. REVIEW..

Veterans Advocacy Council for Mental Health
An Independent Council working with
Robert J. Dole, VA Medical Center
October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2013

 2013 Annual Review Veterans Mental Health Council

Date Council Began:
January 6, 2011

Facility or clinic Information (examples):
The council is based at the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center Wichita Kansas, a city of about 630,000.

Veterans Mental Health Council is a council that includes rural Community Based Outpatient Clinics and Wichita with its’ surrounding areas.

Council Mission Statement:

The mission of the Veterans Advocacy Council for Mental Health at the Robert J. Dole Medical Center is to establish and maintain a council presided by Veterans without management or control by the Veterans Administration (VA), and is therefore, independent of the VA, to continue to strongly encourage the local VA facility to maintain the mental health Consumer Advocate Liaison Council to facilitate stakeholders’ input on the structure and operations of mental health services.  The Council will educate and update Veterans on the minimum clinical requirements for Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Mental Health Services in the VA Medical Centers and Clinics, established in the “September 11, 2008 VHA Hand Book 1160.1.”
Veterans will be informed of “Behavioral Health Interdisciplinary Program BHIP Teams”, a system that’s designed around the needs of the Veteran to establish a truly meaningful professional relationship between the VA Mental Health Staff, Community Partners, and Veteran Service Organization in order to improve the quality of VA Mental Health Services and improve the Veterans’ understanding of the services available.

2012 Activities and Accomplishments:

The Advocacy Council invited the Suicide Prevention Coordinator and Suicide Prevention Nurse Case Manager.  The council was asked if it would like to participate in a new project where individual Veterans, would take training on how to identify and prevent potential suicide victims and to train others to do the same.  When all of the training has been developed and finished, leaders would be given a Challenge Coin to identify them as the select few people who are trained on how to recognize the symptoms of suicide as well as how to get help. 

During the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), the council developed handouts and postcards along with a tri-fold poster providing information about the Advocacy Council.  There was a table located in the main building in the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center.

 The Advocacy Council chairman for the first time represented the council and was a candle lighter, at the candlelight vigil at Kansas Newman College.  The Mental Illness Awareness Candlelight Ceremony is all about changing the stigma of mental illness to a positive statement of working for mental wellness.  Dr. Jeremy Crosby Psy.D., Co-liaison, for our council, was the guest expert speaker at the event; while the VA’s participation in the activity was co-lead by our other staff liaison Janice Roberts LSCSW, Local Recovery Coordinator.  

 The Advocacy Council initiated its own Certificate of Appreciation, separate and apart from the Facilities awards program for staff.  The inspiration for the initiative was recognized, as our own chairman of the council encountered a staff member in Emergency Room ER who represented the best of what ER has to offer its’ Veterans.  It was not long after that the Certificate of Appreciation was placed in the Center Director’s file along with being given to the head of ER and personally presented by the council to the staff member with a photo op.

The Certificate of Appreciation was also given by the Veterans Advocacy Council to Dr. John E. Pope, Associate Chief of Staff (ACOS).  The council was placed on the agenda for the Behavioral Services Staff Meeting to make the presentation.

2012 Annual Report Veterans Mental Health Council was completed by the year’s end.  A copy was provided to the ACOS, our staff liaison LSCSW, and one emailed to Dr. Peggy Henderson, Director of Consumer and Liaison Services, VACO-OMHS.

Pre-printed materials were made and given to new members in order to make them more acquainted with the group quicker and ensure that frequently asked questions are answered.

Effort was put forth to actively monitor and participate on actions regarding information from the monthly National Veterans Council Conference Call.  Following the example of another council, we developed a letter of introduction and explanation of benefits available through Behavioral Health Services and sent it to all surrounding rural area newspapers and televisions stations within the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center catchment area.

We also participated in giving feedback on the Uniform Mental Health Services Handbook 5 year review when requested.

Our Peer Support Specialist Program began this year.  The council invited the management staff and newly hired Certified Peer Specialists to explain the role of this new program in Behavioral Health Services and to request that we have open communication and feedback.

The council invited representatives from the local NAMI chapter to provide information on an affiliate group.  The Chapter is developing a NAMI Kansas Veterans & Military Council affiliate.  It will be formed and report to the Kansas chain of command once it is established. We thanked them for their information but declined to participate.

 Rita Snider, LSCSW, VJO Coordinator, partnered with the council’s chairman’s participation with the Sedgwick County Sherriff’s Office  in the Law Enforcement’s Crisis Intervention Team CIT training.  Representing the Council, the Chairman completed the 12 hour and 8 hour courses, certified in both Adult and Youth Mental Health First Aid USA.   Months later as a representative of the Veterans Advocacy Council with Rita Snider, Co-chair of the CIT Board, partnered with the council in allowing our chairman to be on the CIT Board.

 Frank E. Wheeler, Registered Nurse Mental Health Clinic MHC, member of American Psychiatric Nurses Association first approached the Chairman of the Veterans Advocacy Council followed by Janice Roberts, LSCSW, Local Recovery Coordinator, and Council Co- liaison to invite the Veterans Advocacy Council’s participation in the very first Department of Veterans Affairs, Robert J. Dole VAMC Community Mental Health Summit.  The Chairman of the Advocacy Council attended the local mental health summit.  This was an all-day event with the intent of building community partnerships to meet Mental Health needs of our Veterans and their families.

 During the last month of the fiscal year, the Veterans Advocacy Council for Mental Health, an Independent Council working with the Robert J. Dole, VA Medical Center took time to re-invent and re-think what might be a more meaningful mission of the council.  The council believes the core mission is to provide education and knowledge of the responsibility and guidelines in delivering new services and programs the VA aspires to.  Our Veterans have enough on their plate with disabilities, traumas, mental illness and accumulation of post military survival.

Concerns brought up during the year that impact Veterans and the delivery of mental health services:

1.      Computer Access Lab non- VA based, to allow veterans internet access for job applications, e-mail access, etc.
2.      Cross- training of new patients – information sharing between the different services for comprehensive veterans care.  What do you do between? Type of training between organizations / disciplines, allowing veterans to query about different treatment options within Behavioral Health Services.
3.      More Gender Sensitive Services – Tele-med at CBOCs, group participation, family education, etc.

VA Staff and Veterans Mental Health Council Information Sharing to Medical Center:

  Partnered with:  Frank E. Wheeler, R.N. MHC, member of APNA, in raising interest in the 1st Annual Robert J. Dole VA Mental Health Summit.

 We met with the three newly hired Certified Peer Support Specialists.

 NAMI’s, Mental Health Awareness Week at the Candlelight Ceremony as a presenter, with Melissa Gronau, LSCSW, Homeless/HUD-VASH Coordinator at the Annual Homeless Veteran & Community Stand Down. 

Dr. Deselms, PhD, Suicide Prevention |Crisis Center Coordinator and the Challenge Coin training initiative.

 Rita Snider, LSCSW, Veterans Justice Outreach Coordinator, on the local Sedgwick County CIT (Crisis Intervention Team).

 Rene’ Strunk, Executive Director, Project Independence Inc. CAPs (Consumers as Providers) enabling Chairman of the Veteran's Mental Health Council to become a Certified Peer Specialist.

 Judge Richard T. Ballinger in a project called "Community Crisis Center" for individuals that are in crisis.

In communication with: Judge Eric R. Yost (Probate Department, Division 12.)  Jason Scheck, (COMCARE, Director of Crisis Intervention Services, Sedgwick County.)   Thomas Pletcher, (LCP, LCAC , Director of Clinical Support and Community Outreach, COMCARE of Sedgwick County.)   Dr. Barb Andre (Executive Director, Breakthrough Club.)   Dr. Matthew Macaluso, DO (Medical Director, Via Christi Psychiatric Clinic.)   Patrick Flaming (RN, BSN, Director of Impatient Operations, Prairie View, Behavioral Healthcare.)  Harold Casey (LAC CEO, Substance Abuse Center of Kansas Inc.)  Captain Hassan Ramzah (Commander Patrol East Bureau Field Services Division, Deputy.)   Sabrena Gresham ( Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office, CIT training.)  Timothy V. Kaufman (MPA, Director Sedgwick County, Division of Human Services)  Allison Woods (Newman University School of Social Work Veterans, The Department of Veterans Affairs Wichita Vet Center.)

 V.A. STAFF contacts: Frank Wheeler, RN MHC, Diane Henderson, Executive Secretary for the Center Director, Connie Jarvais, LMSW Homeless Veterans, Michelle Moser, BHS Operations Manager, and Donna Cox, Lead PSA, Council Staff Contacts, Rita Snider, LSCSW Veterans Justice Outreach Coordinator,  Alisa Klick-Davis RN, Mental Health Intensive Care Management Range Program, and Veteran Service Organizations.

Suggestions/Goals for Fiscal Year 2014:

1.      Improve attendance at monthly meetings. We have a large number of members that actively monitor e-mails, but we need more personal contact.
2.      Increase membership:  Develop handouts and posters and elevator speech to increase membership.
3        Complete more projects and serve more veterans: Become more proactive with the support organizations.

Respectfully Submitted:

Veterans Advocacy Council for Mental Health an Independent Council working with Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center.

Howard Hutchison (Chair)

Cc Staff Liaison

Janice Roberts, (LSCSW)

1.      The council gives permission for a copy of this report to be shared on the VA VMHC SharePoint.

__X__yes        _____no

2.      The council gives permission for a copy of this report to be shared with other VMHCs.

__X__yes     ______no

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