Veteran Peer Training and Certification

During FY2013, DBSA was proud to implement our national contract with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for training and certification of Veteran peer support staff employed by VA facilities across the country. Contract training prepared individual Veterans to assume varied peer support roles in VA medical centers and other facilities as part of a major expansion of peer support services within VA facilities. This expansion was the result of an Executive Order issued on August 31, 2012 by President Barack Obama to improve access to mental health services for Veterans. That Order directed the VA to expand its peer workforce by an additional 800 individuals. Contract training began in February 2013 and was delivered via a combination of face-to-face and webinar-based instruction, followed by completion of a certification examination.


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VA Staff Perspectives

My heartiest congratulations and gratitude go out to the DBSA for their herculean effort to train and certify Veteran employees of the VHA this past year. The efficient timely training, testing and reporting of results was so outstanding, that it was only surpassed by our Veteran employees’ praise for the high quality and thoroughness of the training. Our ability to comply with the President’s Executive Order to hire and train 800 peer specialists by the end of 2013 could never have been accomplished without DBSA’s excellent efforts.
— Daniel O’Brien-Mazza, MS, VA National Director, Peer Support Services
Our VA facility is very appreciative of the high quality of training that was offered to our peer support staff through the DBSA-VA peer training. The staff trained by DBSA returned with a comprehensive wealth of knowledge that added to their credibility as valued members of professional teams. The specialized training that they have been provided by DBSA has certainly enhanced the services that we have been able to offer to our Veterans and their family members, and for that we are very grateful.
—VA peer support staff supervisor


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Veteran Trainee Perspectives

This was the best training I’ve ever been to for any position I have ever held.
—VA peer support employee and training participant
I salute you and your team for a job well done for our success is a direct reflection on your team.
—VA peer support employee and training participant
I am so grateful for the chance to help Veterans achieve more in their lives [through] the training I have received.
—VA peer support employee and training participant
The information I received will be always valued and appreciated as I continue to serve my Veteran Peers.
—VA peer support employee and training participant
What an absolutely wonderful job your organization did to prepare all the peers ... I learned and valued each moment I [was] there.
—VA peer support employee and training participant


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By the Numbers



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Peer Specialists

A Peer Specialist is an individual with lived recovery experience who is trained and certified to deliver recovery-focused services to their peers. As a person who has traveled a similar path, the Peer Specialist first and foremost fosters hope for recovery and serves as a role model for others.

The Peer Specialist:

Peer Specialist certification exists in a majority of states, and peer support services have been deemed an evidence-based mental health model of care by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).


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