From Dr. Broderick: A Public Health Approach
Returning veterans and their families need a comprehensive set of services to support the transition from active-duty military to an engaged and healthy life in the community.
To address that need, SAMHSA recently collaborated with the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) at the Second National Behavioral Health Conference on Returning Veterans and Their Families. (See Paving the Road Home Returning Veterans and Behavioral Health.)
Dr. Eric B. Broderick, Acting SAMHSA Administrator
As Federal agencies, SAMHSA, DoD, and VA each have different roles to play, but we each hold a shared belief in the public health model to promote the health and well-being of our returning troops.
Our continuing goal is to speak with a single voice on behalf of men and women coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan bearing the “invisible wounds” of war. The public health model supports the notion that it is inherently better to promote health and prevent illness before an illness begins.
Well-being, prevention, and treatment are the cornerstones of this approach to health care. The public health model is well suited to promote an individual’s recovery from mental health and substance use disorders and the traumas that may result from combat exposure.
This model recognizes that mental health does not reside solely in the individual but within the web of interactions among the individual, the family, the military unit, the neighborhood, and the community where a returning veteran lives.
Through SAMHSA's collaborations with state mental health and substance abuse authorities, state substance abuse agencies, and community mental health centers, we can provide access to a full range of community-based services for our soldiers who choose to seek our help.
We are also committed to expanding the level of community and provider awareness, education, and capacity that will allow us to connect veterans to the DoD and the VA for services for which they are eligible.
Mental health and substance abuse issues can lead to other health and social problems. The public health approach seeks long-term solutions achieved by high-quality care, before symptoms and co-occurring conditions become severe.
I challenge us all—state and local governments, the research community, the mental health and substance abuse services field, and the private sector—to look for ways to address the needs of the men and women who have returned home.
Eric B. Broderick, D.D.S., M.P.H.
SAMHSA Acting Administrator