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DBSA-VA Peer Specialist Training

DBSA is proud to have been awarded the contract from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for training and certification of peer support staff employed by VA facilities across the country. Contract training prepares individual Veterans to assume roles in VA medical centers and other facilities as part of a major expansion of peer support services within VA facilities. This rapid expansion of peer support positions is 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.

DBSA-VA contract Peer Specialist Training Courses

DBSA-VA contract Peer Specialist training courses are reserved for individual Veterans who are currently employed in a peer support apprentice or technician role by a VA facility, and who have been approved for training participation by that VA facility and by the VA National Director of Peer Support Services. These 46-hr. courses began in February 2013. The VA is responsible for funding the costs of approved participant travel, hotel accommodations, and meals associated with training.

VA Peer SupportSuccessful completion of this training course and all associated examinations meets current VA certification requirements for individuals employed as peer support specialists.

Here’s some helpful information for Veterans interested in qualifying for a VA peer support specialist position.

Have you already been trained and certified as a peer specialist?

Yes, I’ve already completed a Peer Specialist training course offered through DBSA.
Individual Veterans who completed a DBSA Peer Specialist core training course (26 hrs.) on or before March 8, 2013 and who have successfully completed the post-course DBSA Peer Specialist examination are deemed to meet current VA requirements for individuals employed as peer support specialists.

Please note:  Individual Veterans who complete a DBSA Peer Specialist core training course (26 hrs.) after March 8, 2013 will only meet current VA requirements for individuals employed as peer support specialists if your state accepts DBSA core training for state certification. Contact your state certifying body for further information.

Yes, I’ve already completed a Peer Specialist training course offered by my state or another organization.
Individual Veterans who have completed Peer Specialist training and received certification on or before March 8, 2013 through their state mental health department’s approved process, or through a course offered by one of the VA-approved organizations listed below, meet current VA requirements for individuals employed as peer support specialists:

  • Appalachian Consulting Group
  • Georgia Certified Peer Specialist Project
  • NAZCARE
  • Pennsylvania Community Integration Program
  • Recovery Innovations
  • Transformation Center (Massachusetts

Are you a VA employee currently working in a peer support specialist role at a VA facility who has not yet been trained and certified?

Contact your supervisor or your facility’s Local Recovery Coordinator for information on national training participation and eligibility. 

Are you a VA employee who is not currently working in a peer support specialist role, and interested in qualifying for VA employment as a peer support specialist?

Here are your options for qualifying for a VA peer support position:

  • Complete your state mental health department's approved certification process (or another state's certification process that doesn't require residency)
  • Participate in DBSA core Peer Specialist training if your state accepts DBSA core training for state certification
  • Complete equivalent training for non-peer support employees (see the Veteran non-employee section, below)

Contact your supervisor or your facility's Local Recovery Coordinator to clarify your eligibility for contract training participation.

Are you a Veteran not currently employed by the VA and interested in obtaining equivalent training that could qualify you for VA employment as a peer support specialist?

Only current VA peer support employees are eligible to participate in DBSA-VA contract training courses. DBSA will periodically offer equivalent Veterans training courses for non-employees. Benefits may be available from the VA or your state to support training costs. For information about your eligibility, please contact your state Veterans Benefits Office or Department of Veterans Affairs Vocational Rehabilitation Services. For additional ideas, please visit DBSAlliance.org/FindingFunds. If you would like to receive notices of future non-contract training courses that meet current VA peer support specialist employment requirements, please register here.

All questions regarding individual eligibility to participate in DBSA-VA Contract Peer Specialist Training and eligibility for VA positions must be directed to Dan O’Brien-Mazza, VA National Director of Peer Support Services:  Daniel.O’Brien-Mazza@va.gov or (315) 425-4407 or Julie Cashel: Julia.Cashel@va.gov or (314) 894-5739. DBSA does not approve individual participants for DBSA-VA contracted Peer Specialist training courses and is not an authority on employment eligibility.

Other information of interest to Veteran peer support specialists

VA Peer Support Positions
Information on VA peer support employment

Make the Connection
Connect with other Veterans with shared experiences

Veterans Employment Toolkit
Resources for employment

Vet to Vet USA
Facilitator training and partnerships

NAMI Veterans & Military Resource Center
NAMI resources

Wounded Warrior Project
To honor and empower wounded warriors