At the start of the new wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Kathryn J. Kotrla, M.D. and Colonel Lori Sutton, commander of the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood, identified certain issues and needs for military service members, their families, and other veterans in the state of Texas and worked to find ways to address those needs. Among them was easy access to the services and benefits provided at many levels for the troops.
An original proposal written by Dr. Kotrla to secure start-up funds and initiate the collaborative venture for early identification of and intervention for post-deployment community, occupational and family re-integration was funded by the Veteran's Administration Central Office (VACO) through the Center of Excellence (COE). The intent of this initial funding was limited in duration to realign the program from the VA and into a non-VA agency which could solicit ongoing funding through grants, philanthropy, and other funding sources.
State funding was provided when S.B. 1058 was passed in April 2007, giving the Texas Adjutant General's Department the mandate to develop a program to provide referrals to service members for reintegration services.
Other notable TexVet partners include Department of State Health Services (DSHS), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC), Mental Health America-Texas (MHA-T), National Alliance on Mental Illness-Texas (NAMI-Texas), the Military Order of the Purple Heart, the Veterans County Service Officers Association, Bring Everyone in the Zone (BEITZ), Texas 2-1-1 and other Veterans Service Organizations who share the mission of serving our Veterans and their Families.
As military personnel return to Texas from the global war on terror to their Texas families, their needs are becoming increasingly clear. These needs include Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Homelessness, Unemployment, Finance, Education and Transitional Issues. Federal, State and local agencies (including non-profit organizations), have allocated resources to support the military families.
Some current issues identified by TexVet are:
• Texas agencies are not reaching the veterans and their families with information about their services.
• Peer to Peer (P2P) Facilitators are trained in large cohorts but little effort is made to engage and support these volunteers after training.
• There is little continuity of care in these services as veterans move around the state of Texas.
• Duplication of services to veterans, in which resources are not being used efficiently and time is wasted.
In order to ensure veterans and their families have easy access to state-wide resources; TexVet developed a Veteran Services Provider Network (VSPN) in which information is gathered and disseminated. This comprehensive network allows veterans and their families to save time and effort when searching for services.
Through collaborative efforts Partners Across Texas (PAT) also benefit by learning about like-minded programs, funding, and best practices to serve the veterans and their families. To identify partners in rural areas, TexVet collaborated with DSHS, TMF, and other organizations to reach the community leaders in those areas to capture information and services to veterans and their families. PAT has since developed into the Joning Community Forces: Texas (JCF-T) program.
TexVet will host a pair of statewide coordinators to curate and support the network of volunteer coordinators, volunteers, and others providing services to military, veterans, and family members in Texas.
Benefits: Creating a Veteran Services Provider Network (VSPN) statewide will be one of the key steps in closing the gaps in veteran services in Texas. TexVet has become the "hub" that provides vital information to serve the veterans and their families. This hub is fed further by event-based activities, led throughout Texas, where we are able to connect directly with the veterans, their families and the Partners.
This allows TexVet to get direct feedback from all in attendance and to strengthen our VSPN. This direct feedback helps us facilitate timely updates to the website and database.