DBSA e-Update August 2007: Peer Services
DBSA Helps U.S. Veterans Affairs Expand Peer Support
The nation’s largest direct health care system, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), recognizes the power of peer support in mental health care and is drawing on DBSA to help offer that support. On its own, the VA hosts voluntary peer support efforts such as the Vet-to-Vet program. And it has officially established the new paid position of “peer support technician” (the VA’s term for “peer specialist”), which many VA facilities are already promoting as employment opportunities for veterans.
DBSA is playing a key role in training the VA’s current and future peer support technicians. For example, this week dozens of veterans are receiving DBSA Certified Peer Specialist training in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Later this year, DBSA will provide on-site training to veterans at both the VA Northern Indiana Health Care System and the VA Great Lakes Health Care System. And earlier this month, veterans working as new peer support technicians, along with their staff clinical partners, met at a Chicago conference, where DBSA Peer Services Director Lisa Goodale facilitated a session called “The Professional Self." She discussed ethics and the effective use of supervision. The conference’s focus was on the evolving role of peer support within the VA.
DBSA is also pushing for expansion of peer services within the VA in order to meet the enormous need. In her recent testimony before the Health Subcommittee of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, DBSA President Sue Bergeson reminded committee members of the value of veteran peer support: “Veterans who have successfully recovered from mental illnesses, reaching out to other veterans with mental illnesses, are an authentic source of hope for the future. Veteran peer supporters can connect with other veterans at a level no clinical provider, however dedicated, can match.”
If you are a veteran or clinician interested in DBSA Certified Peer Specialist training, or want to learn how to bring this training to your VA facility, contact Lisa Goodale at lgoodale@DBSAlliance.org.