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Collaboration strengthens mental health services for veterans

A Community Green Zone Advocacy Training event was held recently in Pittsburg, Kansas to honor, recognize, and support Service Members, Veterans, and their Families (SMVF).

This event connected mental health centers, military members, law enforcement, local and state officials, advocacy groups, healthcare professionals, and community members to empower community members as they support veterans as they transition from military life to a civilian environment.

Green Zones are designated locations recognized by veterans as safe places. Attendees of the event participated in training to become Green Zone advocates and were given certificates along with Green Zone decals to display, allowing veterans to recognize these locations as safe places.

A collaborative effort between regional community mental health centers Crawford County Mental Health Center (CCMHC), Spring River Mental Health and Wellness, and Labette Center for Mental Health Services has been in process for a couple of months to develop SMVF programs at their agencies as part of Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) Accreditation.

Under the guidance of Loran Osborn, SSG, US Army (Ret.), SMVF Navigator at Four County Mental Health Center, this group is developing programs that connect the SMVF population to mental health resources in their communities and help them access military and veteran benefits. This Veterans Advisory Board meets regularly for program development and elicits feedback from advocacy groups such as VetLinks and the Southeast Kansas Veteran Providers’ Coalition.

To better serve the SMVF population, James Childers, Director of Addiction Services and SMVF at Crawford County Mental Health Center, plans to create an online directory of services, agencies, groups, connections, and resources.

“Most people are aware of the large organizations, VA (Veterans Affairs), and other government resources, but there are so many small organizations providing a great deal of benefits. Having that information easily accessible for veterans and service members is a part of what this group is intended to do,” Childers said.

To learn more about the SMVF programs and services available to help SMVF members in your community, contact your mental health center, Crawford County Mental Health Center,, Spring River Mental Health and Wellness,, Labette Center for Mental Health Services,, and Four County Mental Health Center,

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