Maryland’s Lt. Governor Joins in Launching Network of Care Web Sites for Veterans

March 31, 2009
Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Maryland Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown today joined representatives of the public mental health industry and veterans affairs as Maryland became the first state in the nation to launch of a “Network of Care” Website devoted to the state’s veterans. Network of Care is an on-line resource that provides simple and fast access to information on local, state and national behavioral health services.

“We ask a great deal of our military families and our veterans and for that we owe them a debt of gratitude. When we saw men and women falling through the cracks of a large and out dated federal VA system, we didn’t point fingers. We chose to act,” Lt. Governor Brown said. “Maryland’s Commitment to Veterans initiative is a national model for what states can do to improve veteran services, especially behavioral health services. We are proud to be the first state in America to launch the Network of Care program. We hope that other states follow our example and make veterans health a leading priority.”

Last year, the O’Malley-Brown administration introduced to the General Assembly one of the most comprehensive veterans packages in the nation. The cornerstone of the package was the Veterans Behavioral Health Initiative that set aside $2.3 million for behavioral health services for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. The initiative provides funding for four regional resource coordinators who help direct behavioral health services to veterans in need. The administration introduced a bill this year that will expand the Veterans Behavioral Health Initiative to include all veterans.

“Many veterans do not sign up for services through the VA, and their families don’t know where to turn for help,” said Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary John M. Colmers. “The veterans Network of Care portal is a comprehensive Web site that includes information to help veterans find and sign up for these services.”

Studies show that as many as one out of three veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffers from mental health problems, including traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. Of those veterans, more than two out of three do not receive the proper medical attention that is necessary. Other studies have found that today’s returning veterans have a significantly higher rate of suicide than veterans from previous conflicts.

“Network of Care will serve as a bridge between federal, state and local services available for veterans.  As a unique, new outreach and information hub it will serve all of Maryland’s veterans regardless of their geographic location,” said Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary Wilbert Forbes.

Found at http://www.mdveterans.networkofcare.org/, Maryland’s Network of Care for veterans builds on the success of the state’s Network of Care site which launched last year. It is hosted by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH), with assistance from the state Mental Health Association, National Alliance on Mental Illness-Maryland, On Our Own of Maryland and the Maryland Association of Core Service Agencies. DHMH is in the fourth year of a five-year $13.7 million federal grant to implement transformation initiatives in mental health care.

The original Network of Care site allows consumers to have a lead role in addressing their needs for behavioral health services, and also allows them to store medical records, advance directives and personal wellness plans in a password-protected personal folder. The site also contains a library of mental health articles, links to support and advocacy organizations, and reports on legislation.

“This is a flexible system that can be updated within 24