DMHAS: Military Support Program

{Connecticut Military Support Program}

The Connecticut Military Support Program (MSP)




The Military Support Program (MSP) was established by the Connecticut General Assembly (Section 17a-453d) to address the behavioral health needs of National Guard and Reserve personnel affected by deployment in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF-Afghanistan) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF-Iraq).  In April 2012, in a press release issued by LT. Governor Nancy Wyman, the administration of Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced the expansion of program eligibility to include veterans of active duty service and their families .  As the State Mental Health Authority in Connecticut, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) was given the responsibility of administering the MSP program.  The program officially began in March 2007.  


Funding for the program came from monies set-aside during the sale of the state-owned Fairfield Hills Hospital in Newtown, CT.  A total of $1.4 million was set aside for OEF/OIF activities, of which $400,000 was directed to researchers at Yale University to study the needs of OEF/OIF Soldiers. Upon receipt of the allocation, DMHAS committed two (2) in-kind staff to the program Ė a Program Director and a Community Clinician. The initial allocation for MSP services were non-lapsing, meaning that monies were available until depleted.  MSP is now fully supported in the State, appearing for the first time in the State's FY 2012 budget.



Since 2007, MSP has provided an array of behavioral health services to Connecticutís veterans, citizen soldiers and their family members. The central feature of the MSP program is a statewide panel of over 425 licensed clinicians who provide free, confidential outpatient counseling services to veterans, National Guard and Reserve members and their families (spouse, children, parents, siblings, significant others). The clinical panel is managed through a contract with an administrative service organization (ASO) -- Advanced Behavioral Health, Inc. MSP services are accessed through a 24/7 toll-free Call Center.


The MSP panel provides counseling in matters relating to depression, anxiety, marriage and relationship issues, the special needs of children and adolescents, stress related to deployment, service in a war zone, and homecoming. In addition to outpatient counseling, MSP provides outreach; intensive case management; information, referral and advocacy; and transportation services (livery and gas cards).


In March 2009, the MSP Embedded Clinician Program was established in partnership with Connecticutís Adjutant General, Major General Thaddeus Martin. Today, twenty-nine MSP clinicians serve as Behavioral Health Advocates within Guard Units affected by deployment(s) in Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. These embedded clinicians provide deployment health education to service members and their families and serve as key points of contact for behavioral health services.


Connecticut is unique in that no other state in the country provides free, statewide counseling services to its veterans, citizen soldiers and their families. Also, no other state has established a program that embeds civilian clinicians within National Guard Unitís at the Company level.




  • OUTREACH within the National Guard and Reserve Communities
  • 24/7 CALL CENTER to assure timely and appropriate access to services
  • EMBEDDED CLINICIAN PROGRAM where MSP clinicians, serving as Behavioral Health Advocates, lead Service Members and families in open, honest discussion about deployment health issues.
  • OUTPATIENT COUNSELING SERVICES that are free, confidential, locally available to OEF/OIF Veterans, National Guard/Reserve personnel and their families
  • COMMUNITY CASE MANAGEMENT SERVICES to assure timely access to appropriate services
  • INFORMATION, REFERRAL AND ADVOCACY to secure the right benefits, right away
  • MSP TRANSPORTATION PROGRAM statewide transportation consisting of both livery services and gas cards
  • RECOVERY SUPPORT SERVICES that include access to an array of deployment health educational materials including books, DVDs and phone cards.

MSP accomplishes its outreach mission through its involvement in two key programs: the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program and the MSP Embedded Clinician Program. The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program is a thoughtful, comprehensive program designed to address behavioral health issues associated with deployment. Beginning a year prior to a Unitís scheduled deployment, service members and their families participate in Yellow Ribbon events that are held at local hotels, not in drafty armories.

 At the 30-day post-deployment drill, soldiers and family members have opportunity to spend as much time as they need talking with representatives from behavioral health agencies, as well as an array of federal, state, local and nonprofit agencies Ė community resources which they are encouraged to access.

 During the 60-day post-deployment drill soldiers and families, including children, participate in a series of deployment health workshops designed to inform them of the common challenges associated with the homecoming transition process, and to guide them to supportive services as needs arise.

 MSP staff members participate in all Yellow Ribbon events. Selected clinicians from the statewide MSP clinical panel actively participate by facilitating workshops for soldiers and their families on topics such as Anger Management, Redefining Roles in Relationships and Substance Abuse.

MSP outpatient counseling services are accessed through a 24/7 call center that is managed by Advanced Behavioral Health, Inc., an administrative service organization contracted by DMHAS. Following a brief intake and initial assessment, callers to the Center are provided the names and contact information for three clinicians in their area from which they may choose. An MSP Community Clinician is notified of every call made to the Center and follows up with each caller to support their connection to outpatient counseling. Evening and weekend Call Center coverage is provided by the Wheeler Clinic.
If a call is of an emergent nature, an MSP Community Clinician is immediately notified to assist the ABH clinician in the evaluation and determination of appropriate response. MSP Community Clinicians continue to provide intensive case management support, especially during the period of a callerís first few outpatient visits. Veterans and service members determined to have complex or long-term care needs are assisted in connecting with the VA Connecticut Healthcare System.


The MSP Embedded Clinician Program consists of twenty-nine MSP clinicians who are currently embedded at the Company level (approximately 100 members) within National Guard Units affected by deployment(s).  Two MSP clinicians are assigned to each Unit where one serves as the primary clinician for that unit, the other as secondary.
The embedded MSP clinicians are known as Behavioral Health Advocates (BHA). They are a familiar presence during their Unitís drill weekends where they provide individual and group deployment health education activities, and serve as the key point of contact for behavioral health services.
Unit members may receive confidential support directly from their Behavioral Health Advocate, or assistance from their BHA in accessing services through the MSP panel, the VA Connecticut Healthcare System, or the Vet Center system depending upon their needs.
Embedded MSP clinicians participate in drill weekends until their Unit is deployed. Following deployment, focus is shifted toward serving the family members of the deployed Unit. At that point, instead of participating in drill weekends embedded clinicians serve as Behavioral Health Advocates during Family Readiness Group activities.

MSP outpatient counseling services are absolutely confidential. 
The personal health information of all veterans and current National Guard or
Reserve Service Members is protected.  No information is released without a
person's written consent. 

MSP offers free, confidential, locally available outpatient counseling services to veterans, National Guard/Reserve members, their families and their significant others. The central feature of the program is a statewide panel of over 425 licensed clinicians, organized by DMHAS, who stand ready to provide confidential counseling services that include marriage and family counseling, help for children struggling with adjustment issues, as well as counseling for stress related to deployment, service in a war zone, and homecoming.
A rich and diverse array of clinical specialties can be found among the MSP panel. Included are Advanced Practice Nurses (APRN), Clinical Social Workers (LCSW), Physicians (MD), Clinical Psychologists (PhD), Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT), Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC), and Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselors (LADC). Clinical specialties include affective disorders (i.e., major depressive, anxiety and bipolar disorders), child and adolescent issues, dissociative disorders, impulse control disorders, marriage and family relational issues, panic disorders, PTSD, sexual disorders and substance use disorders.
With the assistance of leaders in the National Guard and the VA healthcare system, MSP clinicians received immersion training in military organizational structure and culture, and in the unique clinical needs of veterans and military families. Counselors from the National Guard Family Program informed MSP clinicians about deployment health related issues, including a comprehensive discussion of stress experienced by families during the deployment cycle. Clinicians from the VA Connecticut Healthcare System (VA) provided training on combat operational stress as well as new evidenced based therapies for treating PTSD.
VA experts also provided overview of veteransí eligibility criteria as well as clear information on how veterans may access VA care. Additionally, VA informed MSP clinicians of the need to recognize mild traumatic brain injuries among OEF/OIF veterans, and to promptly refer them to the VA healthcare system for evaluation and treatment. Additionally, front-line leaders from the Connecticut National Guard provide valuable insight into the demands of unit training and preparation for mobilization and deployment.
MSP has organized and trained a statewide cadre of civilian-based licensed clinicians who stand ready to serve and support Citizen Soldiers and their families through the provision of locally-accessed outpatient counseling services at over 300 locations in Connecticut.

MSP provides intensive community case management services to veterans, National Guard/Reserve members and their families to support each individualís initial connection with MSP clinical services and to assure that all their needs are met. The MSP Community Clinician assists in the assessment of service and/or clinical needs and in determining the type and level of care required.
The Community Clinician assures that the MSP provider clinician completes a service (treatment) plan within each participantís first three visits. Thereafter, the MSP Community Clinician maintains regular contact with each program participant and encourages each individual to call on them if needed. The Community Clinician routinely conducts follow-up with VA, Vet Center or DMHAS clinicians to assure that each referred program participant is appropriately connected, and to support them in the treatment process (in each instance, participantsí written consent is secured prior to such follow-up activity). Similarly, MSP staff may convene and/or participate in treatment team meetings with DMHAS, VA, Vet Center or MSP clinicians. Such inter-agency treatment team meetings occur frequently, with MSP Community Clinicians often being called upon for case management support.
Such intensive case management services enable each MSP participant to receive timely support through their recovery process, as well as appropriate interventions during moments of crisis. MSPís focused outreach to Guard and Reserve units, along with the ongoing provision of deployment health education to soldiers and family members throughout Connecticut, has resulted in hundreds of OEF/OIF veterans being successfully connected to VA clinical services. These are soldiers/veterans who engaged MSP for outpatient clinical Services, but with the assistance of MSP clinicians, have determined that their clinical needs will be better served within the VA Connecticut Healthcare System.
Veterans referred to VA typically present with complex care needs beyond the scope of the MSP program. With the veteranís consent, the MSP Community Clinician will:
  • Contact appropriate VA clinical personnel to alert them of the referral
  • Arrange an appointment for a mental health screening
  • Assist a veteran in accessing emergency care at the VA Psychiatric Emergency Room (or local ER) when emergency care is required
  • Provide follow-up case management support to assure each veteranís safe connection to treatment services with VA.

Hundreds of individuals who have contacted the MSP call center benefited from information, referral and advocacy services. Such services include, but are not limited to, information and referral regarding state and federal veterans benefits and services, including medical, mental health and substance abuse services, as well as state and federal entitlement programs, community-based recovery supports, peer support opportunities, National Guard and Reserves Family Programs, financial counseling, direct assistance programs, housing, employment and training, and educational activities and programs.
Referral for advocacy support is routinely made to national veterans service organizations (NSOís) and to the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Advocacy and Assistance for advocacy representation in VA claims matters. MSP also refers participants to local attorneys willing to provide pro bono assistance, and to court personnel, including DMHAS Jail Diversion staff when necessary.

Recognizing that many OEF/OIF veterans are at risk of dropping out of treatment, or are failing to access treatment, due to transportation needs/costs, DMHAS established a transportation assistance program to assure access and continuity of treatment. Transportation for individuals without ability to drive is provided by an existing DMHAS-funded transportation initiative, Road 2 Recovery, operated by the Columbus House, Inc.
In addition to livery services, gas cards are provided to veterans and family members who find themselves at risk of dropping out of treatment due to high fuel costs. MSP eligible veterans and family members must be participating in outpatient counseling services with VA, a Vet Center, or with an MSP clinician and they must be referred for transportation assistance by their treating clinician. Now reserve component soldiers and their family members need never miss a clinical appointment due to transportation issues.

Recovery support services include phone cards for participants who lack adequate means to stay connected with family members or their treatment team, books such as ďCourage After FireĒ which demystifies the process of transition from soldier to civilian, CD-ROMís and DVDís such as the Sesame Street Spanish/English ďTalk, Listen, ConnectĒ childrenís series which includes guidance on issues relating to deployment, homecoming and a parentís war wounds. These materials serve to:
  • Inform soldiers and military families regarding deployment health matters
  • Normalize the emotional hardships experienced by nearly everyone directly affected by deployment
  • Bring soldiers and military families together by building common understanding of the adjustment and growth processes involved throughout the deployment process.

Confidentiality Statement

Connecticut Military Support Program



It is important for you to know that your involvement with the Military Support Program (MSP) is strictly confidential. Under no circumstance will an MSP staff member release any information to anyone relating to your involvement with the program.

In the event that you have been referred to MSP because of a positive drug screen, or your unit leadership has determined that you may benefit from substance abuse evaluation and treatment services:

  • MSP will provide you with the names and contact information of three MSP clinicians in your local area. It is up to you to choose the clinician with whom you wish to meet.
  • If you are required to provide verification to your unit leadership that you attended counseling, you must notify your MSP clinician. Your MSP clinician will require that you sign a release of information form that will authorize them to release your confidential information to your unit leadership. Please know that MSP staff will not provide such verification.
  • Under no circumstances shall an MSP staff member release any information to anyone, even to your unit commander. Only you may do so, and that you must arrange through your MSP clinician.