MHA Launches Serving Together: Troops, Veterans and Family Care Project
Mental Health Association Launches Serving Together:
Troops, Veterans and Family Care Project
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Grant to Support New Model of Care
Rockville, MD––Mental Health Association of Montgomery County (MHA) announced today the launch of a new community-wide initiative, Serving Together: Troops, Veterans and Family Care Project. This new model of care will coordinate and strengthen community-based resources for troops, veterans and their families and improve access to a range of health, mental health and other support services in Montgomery County. Serving Together is made possible by a four-year $500,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation––the nation’s largest funder dedicated to improving health and health care for all Americans, and matching dollars from local funders. The project is an initiative of MHA, in collaboration with Easter Seals Greater Washington-Baltimore Region and other valued community partners.
This Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) matching grant was awarded through the Foundation’s Local Funding Partnerships (LFP) program. “LFP is one of RWJF’s most competitive annual grantmaking programs. For the 2011 grants we received 181 strong applications, of which only 10 were selected to receive grant dollars,” said Pauline M. Seitz, LFP National Director. “One million American military have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan over the past 10 years. This project demonstrates a way to bridge the organizational divides that can separate military and their families from community services in the civilian sector.”
The local funding sponsor for the project is The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region. Other funders include Montgomery County; The HSC Foundation; The Clark Charitable Foundation, Inc.; Consumer Health Foundation; Healthcare Initiative Foundation; Sanford and Doris Slavin Foundation; the Mead Family; and The Community Foundation for Montgomery County.
“Honoring and meeting the needs of our military and veteran community is a top priority for me,” said Montgomery County Executive Isaiah Leggett, who is a Vietnam War veteran. “By optimizing the use of resources, streamlining the way we deliver services and ultimately improving health outcomes for troops, veterans and their family members, Montgomery County will serve as a model for this region and communities across the country.”
“The Community Foundation is delighted to partner with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and local funders and donors to develop a more effective and collaborative system of services for military families,” said Terri Lee Freeman, President of The Community Foundation. “Our goal is to transform the current fragmented system from one that primarily reacts to solider and family inquiries to one that rallies the entire community—government agencies, military institutions and nonprofit organizations—to proactively provide military families with coordinated services.”
“I can’t think of a better organization to lead this effort than the Mental Health Association, with its long history and track record in the community and its current focus on the needs of military families in Montgomery County,” Freeman added.
Serving Together focuses on active-duty soldiers and their families including more than 700 wounded warriors receiving care at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, as well as soldiers transitioning out of the military and reintegrating back into civilian life and veterans already separated from the military who are living in this community. The project will launch in Montgomery County where there are an estimated 50,000 veterans, 4,000 of whom serve or have served in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more than 50% of whom are drawn from the National Guard and Reserves. Many of these men and women face significant and complex challenges relating to reintegration into the community, such as the need for housing, health care, counseling and employment services.
Three years ago, The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, in partnership with Montgomery County leadership, commissioned research to determine the needs of military and National Guard service members and their families in the Washington metropolitan region. The study identified vast unmet needs and the opportunity to leverage the resources and services of area nonprofits in support of troops and their families. “The research told us current resources were simply not adequate to meet the growing demand,” said MHA Executive Director Sharon Friedman.
In the interim, MHA with funding from the Montgomery County created an information and resource helpline to connect military families with existing resources. In addition, Montgomery County officials created a Commission on Veterans Affairs to provide advice to the County Executive and County Council on the status of programs and services related to the needs of veterans. Montgomery County is the only local jurisdiction with a veterans commission. These resources will prove valuable as the county-wide network of services is improved.
For more information about Serving Together, contact Stefanie Moreno at 301-424-0656. Troops, veterans and family members in need of immediate services should call the MHA Military Helpline, 301-738-7176.
About Mental Health Association and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
MHA promotes mental wellness and supports those with mental illness by sponsoring and implementing advocacy, education and community service programs. For information, visit www.mhamc.org.
RWJF focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. For information, visit www.rwjf.org.
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