M-SPAN News Updates – March 2016



Thanks to a recent grant from Bristol-Myers Squibb, Peer Advisors for Veteran Education (PAVE), currently on 12 campuses nationwide, will be expanding to 30 new schools. The PAVE program is a partnership with Student Veterans of America, which has over 1300 chapters across the country. The PAVE team and SVA reviewed applications from almost 60 schools. The 30 schools were chosen based upon strong student veteran leadership, having an infrastructure that could support the program, and having support from higher administration. Key leaders from each of the 30 schools will convene in Ann Arbor in August for a training conference.

Last November, the Buddy-to-Buddy Program hosted guests from SOCOM, the Unified Combatant Command charged with overseeing the various Special Operations Component Commands of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force of the United States Armed Forces. SOCOM representatives attended a 2-day training conducted by Buddy-to-Buddy Staff to help them move toward implementing a peer support program. SOCOM then invited the Buddy-to-Buddy training team to Tampa to present to a larger group from across the world. Program Manager Stephanie Zarb and Training Specialist Bob Short trained SOCOM’s peer network coordinators on the Buddy-to-Buddy model.

A Strong Military Families (SMF) group recently started in Virginia, the program’s first initiative outside of Michigan. A former Depression Center fellow who worked under the Strong Military Families’ PrincipaI Investigator, Kate Rosenblum, PhD, who now resides in Virginia, worked with the program’s team to implement a group. SMF is a 10-week parenting intervention for military families with young children. Preliminary data indicates that parents who participate in the SMF groups feel more confident, report fewer child behavior problems, and experience a reduction in mental health symptoms.

HomeFront Strong is forming a new group in Macomb County that will start this March. The program consists of an 8-week resiliency group for military/veteran spouses or partners that includes content on building positive relationships, learning new approaches to self-care, and practicing positive coping. Other groups throughout Michigan will be forming later in the year.

A new M-SPAN initiative, the Women Veterans Needs Assessment, is seeking post-911 women veterans and women serving in the National Guard or Reserves. The Women Veterans Needs Assessment seeks to learn more about this population, including their experiences while serving and once separated, any unique challenges and successes they face, gaps in services for women, and ways to best support their well-being. M-SPAN will develop future programs and services based on the needs identified by the assessment.