M-SPAN: Military Support Programs and Networks was founded in November 2008 when the University of Michigan was chosen as one of the first three academic medical centers in the country to be part of the Welcome Back Veterans (WBV) initiative, a partnership between the Robert J. McCormick Foundation and Major League Baseball Charities aimed at addressing the mental health needs of those who have served our country. Through this initiative, we have developed a range of flagship programs under the M-SPAN umbrella that are dedicated to improving military health and wellness for service members, veterans and military families.
M-SPAN programs include innovative approaches to overcoming stigma and reducing isolation, advancing strategies for community outreach, increasing capacity through training community practitioners, and the development and implementation of evidence-based programs that can be replicated nationally. Our faculty has special expertise in peer programs; early childhood interventions; and interventions to support resilience in spouses and families.
Expertise in Training
To date, almost 250 volunteer veterans have been trained through the Buddy-to-Buddy program; over 600 student veterans have been trained to be Peer Advisors; and nearly 200 community and VA clinicians from across the state have been trained in military culture and on delivering our family programs. One of the priorities of the M-SPAN team is training the next generation of mental health professionals.
Convening National Dialogue
Professionals from a wide range of disciplines, including faculty, staff, and trainees from psychiatry, psychology, social work, public health, and business are part of the M-SPAN team. Together with our veteran staff members, our colleagues at the VA, military stakeholders, and our network of community providers, we are able to initiate regional and national discourse on innovative and best practice approaches to meet the needs of service members, veterans and military families.
The Value of Partnerships
The success of our programs can be attributed in large part to our military, VA, and community partners who collaborate with us throughout the program development cycle from identifying and prioritizing needs through program development, implementation, evaluation, and dissemination. Our process for program development and our key partners are described in the diagram below.