In an effort to better connect military affiliated and non-military affiliated South Puget Sound residents with available services in the region, the South Sound Military and Communities Partnership is piloting a project with the Pierce County Library System, Lakewood Branch and Timberland Regional Library’s, Lacey branch in Thurston County.
The program has a goal to get Resource Kits into the hands of people who would benefit by accessing existing services in the military and civilian communities. According to the state Health Care Authority, only 20 percent of clinical care that is available in the state addresses the needs of community members. That leaves the majority of the population without a connection to the assistance they need. The hope is by making it easier for people to reach services through a Resource Kit, the burden would lessen on first responders, clinicians, the public health system and substance abuse communities.
The true value of the kit is the direct assistance from a USA Mental Health First Aid trained staff member. Their knowledge ensures the community member receives appropriate available information. Each kit includes key items like phone numbers and website addresses to empower a person to find additional assistance. These resources are for services related to behavioral health, transportation, housing and more that are ideally within walking distance of where Resource Kits are distributed. Other kit contents include a small amount of food and water, phone cards, a travel blanket, and items to de-stress.
Project data will be collected and analyzed through the pilot program on the total number of kits distributed and the number and type of referrals given. The impact of the kits will also be tracked – was there an increase in access to services? Were there measureable decreases in crisis-level incidents? Once the analysis is done, a recommendation will be made with how to proceed with the project.
There are more than 86,000 veterans in Pierce County and another 29,000 in Thurston County, plus dependents. Combine those numbers with the more than 70 percent of Joint Base Lewis-McChord personnel who live in the cities and communities surrounding the installation, and it’s clear there is a segment of the community that would benefit from additional support through projects like Resource Kits.