CCBHC Outreach Program Offers Assistance to Veterans

Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic’s (CCBHC) Greg Crawford, BA, QP, is making it his mission to eliminate the stigma that veterans commonly associate with seeking assistance.

As a U.S. Marine veteran himself and diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), Crawford knows firsthand what it feels like to face the barriers that exist when returning to civilian life. In his current role, Crawford is witness to the stigma associated with veterans reaching out for help.

Crawford is trying to change that way of thinking with the veterans in which he comes into contact. As a targeted case manager, his role is to link people Monarch supports with critical resources for housing, food, employment and mental health services.

According to a June 2020 report from the U.S. Census Bureau, post-9/11 veterans had a 43 percent chance of having a service-connected disability, after accounting for differences in demographic and social characteristics among veterans. That is significantly higher than veterans from other periods.

A virtual veterans roundtable will launch as part of the CCBHC’s Peer Recovery Center in Stanly County location. The pandemic has delayed an open date for the Peer Recovery Center, however, the CCBHC staff continues to pursue plans, as the initial roundtable session is held virtually. The virtual veteran’s roundtable discussion will be a safe place to share military experiences, identify community resources available and meet others who share similar military experiences.

Monarch’s CCBHC, the first of its kind to open in North Carolina, was launched in 2018 after a $1.9 million grant was awarded by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. One of the primary initiatives included tailoring care for active duty military and veterans.

Gregory Crawford wearing a dark suit, white shirt and red tie.

Greg Crawford

This past April, $3.9 million was awarded to the CCBHC, located in Stanly County, to continue expanding the critical whole-person centered services for people with serious mental illness, substance use disorders such as opioid dependency, primary care health screenings and veteran’s services.

In strengthening veteran’s services within the community, Crawford is currently collaborating with community stakeholders such as local government representatives and veteran’s outreach groups. In implementing the programs, Crawford said they are also emphasizing a veterans helping veterans approach to further promote the CCBHC’s programs. Many veterans are struggling to overcome one or more mental health diagnoses, the realities of maintaining employment or juggling family responsibilities. “So many young men and women are coming back home and are completely traumatized either by active duty or military experiences,” Crawford pointed out.

CCBHC Project Evaluator Dontae Roberts, a U.S. Army, National Guard and Army Reserve veteran having served from 2003 – 2011, will work closely with Crawford to help establish the veteran’s roundtable.

Dontae Roberts

“It definitely gave me a lot of confidence and prepared me for life, even now,” Roberts shared of his time in the service, noting that he began his current role with Monarch in September. “The military teaches you to push through and focus on things in your life . . . With that level of training, I am now able to get the mission done, whether that is work, being a good husband and father or juggling personal situations.”

Roberts will be lending a hand as both a veteran and a coordinator for the CCBHC’s veterans outreach. “The veteran population is statistically very protective of our own. We feel there are a lot of barriers in place and that feel civilians don’t understand our military experience,” he shared, noting that hopefully the roundtable will help in breaking down barriers for veterans.

Roberts brings to Monarch experiences as a social worker, project evaluator and psychotherapist at the Veterans’ Administration. He also worked closely with high-risk veterans dealing with homelessness and suicidal ideations.

His years of military service lends a helping hand when reaching out to fellow veterans: “When veterans would come into my office and see my military certificates, you could see the sigh of relief that they instantly thought I could understand what they went through.”

Crawford and Roberts, when speaking about their roles within the CCBHC, do so with a combined compassion for their fellow veterans and respect for their military experience. “Having a ‘Greg’ housed within the Stanly County community who is addressing the social determinants that cause barriers for veterans to receive critical services such as transportation and accessibility is awesome to have in the community,” Roberts observed.

The virtual veterans roundtable will be held at 12 p.m., Wednesday, November 11, through the CCBHC in Stanly County. For more information or a link to the meeting, please call (704) 986-5630, or email gregory.crawford@MonarchNC.org.