AUSTIN, Texas — The day before Veteran’s Day, Texas leaders launched a new “Texas Veterans Initiative” that will commit more than $1 million in funding to a public-private partnership to provide expanded mental health services for Texas’ veterans. The news was announced in a joint press release from Governor Rick Perry, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, and Speaker of the House Joe Straus. The release describes “an innovative pilot program” that “will allow the state’s $1 million investment to match local and private funds to expand and evaluate community-based mental health programs serving veterans and their families.” If the program is successful, the Legislature could expand it during the 2015 Legislative Session.
The Texas Veterans Initiative will be funded by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), and will support severe mental health needs not currently served by other programs, as prioritized by regional communities around the state. Projects will be selected for funding in a competitive statewide proposal process, which was developed by HHSC and the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, a non-profit organization launched last April that is dedicated to providing “high quality, nonpartisan and objective policy research and development to improve mental health services in Texas.” A panel of Texas veterans, state and community leaders, and mental health experts will review all applications and determine eligibility for funding. The first awards will be granted by March 1, 2015.
A website has been launched to share information about the Texas Veterans Initiative at www.texasstateofmind.org/texasveteransinitiative and the Request for Proposal will be posted there once it is finalized.
In a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas, Perry described the Texas Veterans Initiative as “an opportunity for the State of Texas, private donors and local communities to work together to create enduring solutions for addressing mental health needs for Texas veterans and their families,” adding that “each of the parties involved will share responsibility and accountability in helping improve the lives of Texas veterans who have already given so much to our nation.” Dewhurst added his support for the program. “This new partnership is the next transformative step in our efforts to ensure our veterans receive the quality of medical care they were promised and earned with their faithful service and sacrifices.” Straus called the program “a very good starting point as we head into the legislative session,” and “a smart, effective way to address an issue that affects veterans across this state.” Both Perry and Dewhurst served in the United States Air Force.
Photo credit: Governor Rick Perry’s Office.
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