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NAO Update
January 23, 2012

1. Message from the NAO President

Happy New Year!

Project for the Behavioral/Mental Health of Veterans, Service Members, and Families: In September, the National AHEC Organization contracted with the Health Resources and Services Administration to provide “technical assistance, competency and curriculum development, continuing education and related evaluation to AHEC grantees related to the mental and behavioral health and substance abuse issues of service members/veterans and their families.”

This is an important health workforce training initiative for AHEC because more than 50% of returning service members/veterans and their families receive health care from civilian healthcare professionals. It is also an important opportunity to demonstrate the value and the capacity of the national AHEC network as the training/outreach arm for HRSA and other federal programs. There is a short window of opportunity, just one year, to accomplish deliverables. NAO's A-TrACC team stepped up with a plan for train-the-trainer sessions (for AHEC staff and their partners) in each of 10 HRSA regions via content leadership from SEAHEC (North Carolina).

I know that this is a very busy time and resources are limited. However, centers sending staff to a train-the-trainer workshop are eligible to receive a minimum of $500 to support providing Veterans Behavioral/Mental Health CE offerings in their service area. Participating centers that complete at least one CE offering and submit required documentation by August 1, 2012, will be eligible to receive additional funds. Thank you for your participation in this important opportunity that will mobilize AHEC program and center staff to enlist and equip the civilian health workforce to meet the mental and behavioral needs of veterans and their families.

AHEC Funding: Before the holidays, Congress approved and the President signed a Labor HHS appropriations bill that included $30.142 million for AHEC programming nationally for FY12. Thank you to AHEC centers and programs for communicating with members of Congress regarding the importance of federal funding to sustain the important work that AHECs do to improve the health and economics of our communities through recruitment, training and retention of the nation's health workforce. This is also to acknowledge the work of NAO's Public Policy Leadership Team, NAO Executive Director Rob Trachtenberg, and the Health and Medicine Counsel of Washington and their communications on behalf of AHEC programs and centers.
Thank you.

Mary J. Sienkiewicz, MBA

President, National AHEC Organization
Director, New York State AHEC System

2. From the Executive Director's Office
Thank you to those who sent me the names of your state "Advocacy Leaders." We're getting close! The NAO Public Policy Leadership Team is holding a strategic planning meeting on Monday, January 30 to chart the NAO policy and advocacy course for the remainder of FY12 and FY13, and I'd love to be able to report that we have advocacy leaders from every state with an AHEC. As we learned from the recently completed Congressional budget process, having a dynamic, comprehensive, responsive, and integrated advocacy effort is effective and pays off. As we work to reach the fully authorized AHEC appropriation of $125 million over the next couple of years, it will be vital to have a full national advocacy infrastructure in place. Thanks so much for taking the time to ensure that your state has an advocacy leader. I know everyone is hugely busy right now; I very much appreciate the extra time and effort.

Two items of note that you may want to take a quick look at:

  1. A great article that references the South Dakota AHEC: Senator Tim Johnson wants to provide rural health care help where need is greatest. Click here to see the article.
  2. A conversation with HRSA's Dr. Mary Wakefield, PhD, RN, on CHCs, ACOs and Strengthening the Health Workforce with Eli Y. Adashi, MD, MS, CPE, FACOG. Click here. Please take a moment to watch the dialogue. It's worth 15 minutes of your time, and, if you want to jump to the areas that are most interesting to you, you can scroll down for a transcript of the conversation.

I hope everyone is doing well amidst a most busy time. While seemingly far off, the NAO San Antonio Conference is only 6 months away. Please be sure to make every effort to attend, as this will be a tremendous conference. Also, the on-line call for presentations is at the NAO website: Please consider submitting a proposal for a presentation. Looking forward to seeing you there!

As I mentioned last week, NAO is now engaged with the Joining Forces Initiative ( As NAO becomes more involved in this initiative, we'll make sure to keep you all posted as to any events, resources, trainings, and opportunities that arise regarding service members and Veterans. Please take a look at the Joining Forces website for more information.

Have a great week and I hope that the grant writing is going well!

3. Use this Language for Consistency Among AHEC Programs
You may want to include this (click here) in your HRSA AHEC grant application: "Standard Language for AHEC Health Workforce Development Continuum." I would encourage you all to use this, as it will create great consistency among AHEC Programs.

4. Upcoming A-TrACC Trainings

AHEC Project for Veterans/Service Members & Families Mental & Behavioral Health

Veterans Mental Health – TA Webinar 207T-A: Assessment & Treatment of Combat PTSD.
January 26, 3 PM ET
Register: )
Toll Free: 1-800-857-5166
Participants Code: 2828788#
Lieutenant Commander Erin Simmons, PhD, will discuss signs and symptoms of combat PTSD, the incidence of PTSD in veterans/service members deployed since 09/2001, and assessment measures for practitioners to use in making referrals to behavioral health specialists. Simmons is a clinical psychologist in the US Navy who has served two tours of duty in Iraq and was recently appointed Junior Psychologist for the Year.

Veterans Mental Health – TA Webinar 208T-A: Traumatic Brain Injury
February 23, 1:30 PM ET
Toll Free: 1-800-857-5166
Participants Code: 2828788#
Dr. James P. Kelly, BA, MS, MD, Director, The National Intrepid Center of Excellence, a component center of the Defense Centers of Excellence, will discuss the incidence of TBI in service members and explain strategies service members and their families use to overcome problems. Dr. Kelly is a neurologist and one of America's top experts on treating concussions.

Sick of Winter? Head to Tampa! Register NOW for this FREE Veterans Mental Health Train-The-Trainer Workshop

There's still time to register for the Region 4 Train-the-Trainer Workshop next week, January 24-25, at the Hilton Garden Inn, Tampa. Contact Christina Mathis at AHEC staff from any HRSA region can attend.

At this training, you will learn how to organize continuing education programming for civilian healthcare providers on the behavioral/mental health issues of veterans and service members returning from combat. This project is enabling AHECs to improve behavioral health services for a significantly underserved population—returning veterans/service members and their families. For the complete workshop schedule visit the A-TrACC website. To view recordings of past VMH webinars visit the A-TrACC Vets Mental Health Resource Room. For more information contact

This AHEC Veterans Mental Health Project is funded by Health Resources and Services Administration Contract No. HHSH250200900063C/0004 to the National AHEC Organization.

5. National AHEC Organization Award Nominations
An Invitation to the AHEC Community to Recognize Our Most Outstanding Projects and Individuals

The NAO Awards Committee is now accepting nominations for the NAO Awards for Excellence, which will be presented at the 2012 National AHEC Workshop in San Antonio.

At each of the bi-annual national workshops, the National AHEC Organization recognizes projects and individuals that epitomize the AHEC spirit of excellence in five major categories:

We encourage you to visit the NAO Awards website ( and click on the individual award categories to review the criteria and instructions for nominating candidates. Only NAO members are eligible for awards, and you may nominate yourself, as sometimes, you are the person/organization who best knows your work. No individual or organization may receive more than one award in any one year.

The deadline for nominations is March 14, 2012.

For further information about the 2012 NAO AHEC Awards, please contact either of the Awards Committee co-chairs:

Suzanne Matthew, PhD
Northern Wisconsin AHEC
Ph: 715-849-2432

Tom Bacon, DrPH
North Carolina AHEC Program
Ph: 919-966-8981

6. It's Not Too Far Away: Mark Your Calendars for the NAO Annual Conference in San Antonio, TX July 29-August 2, 2012
Plan on enjoying networking opportunities and informative presentations on a variety of topics! Stay tuned for more details on this exciting conference!

7. Health Programs in Company Communities Supported Walgreens Corporate Contribution Program
The Walgreens Corporate Contribution Program supports nonprofit organizations in local Walgreens communities throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. Walgreens provides grants to organizations that focus on access to health and wellness in their communities, pharmacy education programs and mentoring initiatives, civic and community outreach, and emergency and disaster relief. Health is the company's major area of focus, with priority given to programs that address the health needs of community residents. The company also accepts sponsorship or promotional marketing requests. Online applications may be submitted throughout the year. Visit the company's website for application procedure information.

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Executive Director Rob Trachtenberg | 414-908-4953 |

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