Veterans Mental Health Training Institute



The Veterans Mental Health Training Initiative (VMHTI) is a multi-year comprehensive training project developed by the National Association of Social Workers - New York State Chapter (NASW-NYS), aimed at increasing the number of community health and mental health professionals clinically trained in the assessment and treatment of mental health issues specific to veterans and their families. VMHTI is supported by a grant from the New York State Legislature as part of its efforts to address the unmet mental health needs of returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans and their families.

The VMHTI training curriculum is developed by an advisory committee comprised of veterans experts, representatives from veterans service programs, relevant federal, state and local agencies as well as current and retired members of the military, military family members and other stakeholder organizations in collaboration with Chapter staff. The goal of the VMHTI is to build the capacity of New York’s community mental health workforce to better serve our returning veterans and their families.

Each VMHTI training cycle consists of two regional conferences, which are free to attend and approved for continuing education credits for New York State physicians, licensed social workers, mental health counselors, and marriage and family therapists. In addition to the regional conferences, VMHTI sponsors local programming to further increase the knowledge base of professionals working with military service members and their families across the state.

Since its inception in 2009, the Veterans Mental Health Training Initiative has provided training to social workers and mental health service providers throughout New York State. The initiative provides innovative training opportunities for those who are working with returning service members and their families.

For the 2020 VMHTI program year, NASW-NYS will be providing live in-person individual trainings, conferences with multiple breakout workshops, online live webinars, and a special edition VMHTI Newsletter with self study CE opportunities.

We invite our social work network to submit proposals for consideration to be presented at the VMHTI Conference taking place on May 1 & 2, 2020, as well as additional proposals that fit online and in-person formats.

VMHTI Topic Suggested Topic Areas
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Traumatic Brain Injury
Sexual Assault and Trauma
Substance Abuse
Suicide Prevention/Postvention
Moral Injury
Military Culture
Cognitive Behavior Therapy
Exposure Based Therapy
Co-occurring Disorders
Peer Support
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
Women in Military
LGBT in Military
Military Families

For application, complete and submit the form to with subject line 'VMHTI Proposal'.

For any questions, contact the office at 518-463-4741 or

Year 6

VMHTI Training Cycle


Medical & Mental Health Professionals Trained


Regional Conferences Per Year


caret-down caret-up caret-left caret-right
"Overall training was informative and will be useful in my practice as a social worker."
"Helpful information that can be useful in working with clients who have dealt with trauma."
"Excellent and thoughtful presentation with enough doses of good humor to keep it comfortable for all."
"I received the information about resources which I can access and give to my clients to access."
"It helped to understand better what veterans have gone through and why it is difficult to reintegrate."
"The workshop on intimate partner violence was excellent. The instructor was engaging students shared their experiences easily."


More than 85,000 soldiers from New York State have served in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn; many of whom have been subjected to multiple deployments. As a result, an extremely high percentage of soldiers are returning home with significant mental health issues. Trauma sustained in these combat operations, coupled with the effects of deployment(s) on families, is embedded within the unique context of military culture, and as such, often manifests differently among military populations than in the general public. As a result, New York State is facing formidable challenges in serving the mental health needs of these new veterans. An assessment of the needs of New York State’s returning veterans and their families conducted by the RAND Corporation (January, 2011) underscores the magnitude of this issue, finding that “22% of returning veterans have a probable diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or major depression” and “34% of veterans self-indicated a mental health need.” The study also noted that “46% of veterans with a mental health need would prefer to receive mental health services outside of the VA system.” While a staggering “50% of all veterans seeking mental health treatment did not receive even minimally adequate care.”

Part of the problem in meeting the mental health needs of returning veterans is a short supply of mental health professionals who are adequately trained in identifying and addressing veteran-specific mental health issues. In an earlier RAND publication, Invisible Wounds of War, an analysis of mental health care for returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, identified the top barriers to mental health care as insufficient capacity of the mental health workforce, lack of specialty of care for veteran specific mental health afflictions, and service members’ reluctance to seek treatment due to stigmatization. The study’s recommendations include the provision of large-scale training for mental health providers about military culture and evidence-based treatment of PTSD and major depression.

In response to such an identified workforce issue, NASW-NYS developed the Veterans Mental Health Training Initiative to educate and train community health and primary care providers on veteran-specific mental health issues, including among others post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, suicide, suicide prevention, and substance use disorders. The goal of the VMHTI is to (further) build the capacity of New York’s community mental health workforce to better serve our returning veterans and their families through the delivery of free veterans mental health conferences and other related programming, which has been made possible by a grant through the New York State Legislature and collaboration with the Medical Society of the State of New York and the New York State Psychiatric Association.


If you have any questions about VMHTI, please contact the NASW-NYS Chapter at or at 518-463-4741