NAMI Advocate
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Family-to-Family Partners with Veterans Health Administration

The launch a year ago of an initiative between NAMI and the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to host a Family-to-Family class in designated VHA facilities in each of the 49 Family-to-Family program states has already yielded impressive results: Since the initiative’s inception,  more than half of the program states have started classes.

NAMI affiliate representatives and designated Family-to-Family teachers have participated in numerous VHA staff meetings and sponsored events to introduce the Family-to-Family program model to VHA personnel. With the aid of presentations, a designated point person helps to promote the initiative within the VHA facility.

Reaching veterans’ families with information about Family-to-Family is a challenge at many of the project sites. At sites where outreach has been successful, using “family day” events, distributing Family-to-Family brochures in packets and sending program information for display in waiting room areas are just a few strategies that have sparked interest and increased attendance.

The project is nearing its goal of having a designated site serve as a model for other VHA facilities to implement Family-to-Family classes, and exciting news is coming from Family-to-Family program states about nondesignated VHA facilities interested in starting Family-to-Family classes, as well. Many designated VHA sites are requesting more information about NAMI consumer programs (IOOV, Peer-to-Peer and NAMI Connection), and NAMI hopes to offer these additional programs  at the sites along with the Family-to-Family classes. 

Family-to-Family graduates familiar with military culture (either as veterans or dependents) are asked to help with this project. There are hundreds of untapped families of veterans with serious mental illnesses who will benefit from finding NAMI. They will learn they are not alone. We hope this exciting NAMI/VHA partnership will offer continuing opportunities for veterans’ families to get the help and support that they need.

Learn more about Family-to-Family.

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