Citizen-Soldier Program to Focus on Behavioral Health

Carolina is significantly restructuring the Citizen-Soldier Support Program to focus primarily on the behavioral health needs of returning combat veterans and their families.

Bob Goodale, a retired grocery executive and state commerce official, has been named lead these efforts as director of the Citizen-Soldier Support Program, based in UNC’s Howard Odum Institute for Research in Social Science. He has directed the Citizen-Soldier program’s behavioral health initiative since 2007.

The Citizen-Soldier program, a demonstration project, develops approaches for engaging communities to support National Guard and Reserve members and their families before, during and after deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. It has received several federal appropriations totaling about $9.8 million since 2004. UNC has been reviewing the program since early this year after U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick received a complaint about its effectiveness.

“Behavioral health is Citizen-Soldier’s most successful component, so we’ll focus on that strength in providing assistance to soldiers coming back from active duty along with their families,” said Tony Waldrop ’74, vice chancellor for research and economic development. “Taking this step, under Bob Goodale’s leadership, is consistent with the recommendations emerging from an internal review and guidance from the program’s National Advisory Council.”

Starting Nov. 16, Goodale, a retired Harris Teeter chief executive officer and former deputy secretary of the N.C. Department of Commerce, will succeed Peter Leousis, who will continue as deputy director of the Odum institute.

Waldrop said the citizen-soldier program is expanding the behavioral health initiative to further develop a network of civilian behavioral health providers. So far, the program has trained more than 2,000 providers to work with returning combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury and their families. He said the program’s behavioral health efforts have benefited from collaborations with the Area Health Education Centers, based at UNC’s School of Medicine that works with nine regional centers to bring health sciences faculty and students to North Carolina communities to provide care and services.

Next year, nearly 4,500 National Guard soldiers from North Carolina’s 30th Heavy Combat Brigade will return from deployment in Iraq. The citizen-soldier program’s goal is to put in place a statewide behavioral health “safety net” before they return home, Waldrop said. A Web-based, searchable database of civilian behavioral health providers is scheduled to launch in January.

As part of the restructuring, Waldrop said the Citizen-Soldier program also would:

  • Phase out its own “Building Community Partnership” efforts and redirect that funding to expanding the behavioral health initiative.
  • Move a training program for the Army OneSource initiative, “Building Community Partnerships,” to the Jordan Institute for Families in UNC’s School of Social Work under the leadership of Kenan Distinguished Professor Gary Bowen. That shift leverages existing strengths in the social work school and follows a recommendation from the internal review committee.
  • Reduce several staff positions and re-engage its National Advisory Council in support of the program’s work.

The changes follow a report by Chancellor Holden Thorp ’86 to the Board of Trustees in September, as well as recommendations and ongoing deliberations of an internal review committee created by Waldrop earlier this year. The review committee, which initially worked for six months in producing its report, and a financial audit by the University were prompted by the complaint received by Myrick.

The internal review committee was reactivated in August and continued to deliberate about the program into October. Committee members included two retired military officers who were familiar with the program and its goals, as well as administrators from UNC-Chapel Hill and UNC General Administration.

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