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SAMHSA, the Military, and Veterans—A Relationship of Learning and Support

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Service Members, Veterans, and their Families Technical Assistance (SMVF TA) Center serves as a national resource to support states, territories, and local communities in strengthening their capacity to address the behavioral health needs of military and veteran families. Additionally, since 2007, SAMHSA and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have worked together through an Interagency Agreement (IAA) to reach service members and Veterans. This IAA focuses on reaching the nation’s Veterans who are not in VA care, promote the dissemination of clinical and public health evidence-based practices and ensure access to crisis line services. With this IAA, SAMHSA and VA provide a linkage between SAMHSA’s National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the VA’s Veterans Crisis Line.

SAMHSA learns from and works to further efforts to support service members and Veterans with substance use disorders.

  • Across Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 – FY2021, direct funding to community-based organizations from SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) supported services for 29,485 Veterans, or 3.5% of the total population of individuals served by this category of grant programs during this period.

  • Veterans accounted for 13.8% of individuals served in the Enhancing Adult Drug Court Services, Coordination, and Treatment program, 11.9% of those served in the Adult Treatment Drug Court program, and 11.9% of adults served in the Targeted Capacity Expansion – Peer to Peer support services grant program.

  • Compared to non-Veterans served by CSAT’S grants, Veterans reported, on average, more stability in housing and lower levels of health, behavioral, or social consequences from alcohol or drug use from baseline to follow up.

The Military Health System (MHS) and VA have a long history of providing healthcare and informing emerging health policy and practice for members of America’s armed services and Veterans. MHS and VA are our country’s two national health systems that model universal health care and provide access to effective substance use disorder (SUD) treatment services. For example, since 2011, VA has led the nation in implementing Contingency Management (CM), a key evidence-based SUD treatment option for stimulant use disorder, including cocaine and methamphetamine. As of 2019, over 100 VA medical centers offered CM, and more than 4,000 Veterans participated in the program.

For those looking for more information about the SMVF TA Center and other related SAMHSA efforts to assist service members and Veterans with SUD, please contact SAMHSA’s Military and Veteran Affairs Liaison, Stacey Owens, at Stacey.Owens@samhsa.hhs.gov.

For Additional Information, Visit:

  • Service Members, Veterans, and their Families Technical Assistance (SMVF TA) Center: https://www.samhsa.gov/smvf-ta-center

  • Topics in the News is a monthly e-newsletter with up-to-date information on behavioral health issues important to service members, veterans, and their families. It also contains information about upcoming webinars, new studies, and other newsworthy items. Join the SMVF TA Center email list

  • Veterans Crisis Line: 1.800.273.8255; Press 1


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