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Community Clergy Training Program (CCTP)

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The CCTP is recruiting community clergy partners to join our team and bring the National VA Chaplain Center’s tested and proven CCTP curriculum to rural communities across the country. To date, more than 4,000 clergy members, chaplains, behavioral health professionals, and others supporting Veterans in rural communities have participated in a CCTP training event.

Find the CCTP VA Chaplain Covering Your Area

Live training events enhance the knowledge and skills in:

  • Recognizing the holistic healthcare needs of Veterans,
  • Smoothing reintegration into family and community, and
  • Increasing clergy referrals to VA or community healthcare and resources.

VA Chaplain Facilitators will bring CCTP training events, including training materials, to your rural community. The VA Chaplain leads and facilitates the training and provides training materials, at no cost to the community clergy partner. They will work with you on our simple planning process to coordinate space, set-up, participant recruitment, and training implementation. Community clergy partners help secure a training space - such as a house of workshop, community college, or school - and recruit attendees.

For more information about becoming a CCTP Partner, contact: Chaplain Keith Ethridge, CCTP Program Lead,, (757) 728-3180.

Find the CCTP VA Chaplain Covering Your Area

About the Community Clergy Training to Support Rural Veterans Mental Health

While rural life provides benefits such as a tight-knit community and less crowding, rural Veterans have a higher risk of suicide than their urban counterparts (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2015 QuickStats: Age-Adjusted Rates for Suicide,* by Urbanization of County of Residence† — United States, 2004 and 2013).

For some Veterans, serving in combat may lead to one or more mental health issues. Transitioning back to civilian life may cause stress, depression, and anxiety which can intensify underlying mental health concerns such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). With only 16 psychologists per every 100,000 rural residents, there are fewer resources to support Veterans with mental health issues (American Psychological Association, 2007). In fact more than 85 percent of rural residents live in a mental health professional shortage area (Smalley et al., 2010).

Most rural communities have clergy-led faith groups, and research shows that up to one-in-four individuals who seek help for mental health problems do so from clergy (Wang, P. S., Berglund, P. A., & Kessler, R. C. [2003]. Patterns and correlates of contacting clergy for mental disorders in the United States. Health Services Research, 38(2), 647-673). However, clergy are often unfamiliar about:

  • Reintegration and transition challenges
  • Common post-service, mental health-related issues
  • Differences between PTSD and traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Military culture and mental health stigma
  • How to build community partnerships to support Veterans and their families

Read more about the CCTP and Partnership Opportunities

CCTP Goals

The goals of the Community Clergy Training Program are:

    • To promote health and well-being in the rural Veteran population
    • To generate and diffuse knowledge about rural Veteran health
    • To strengthen community healthcare infrastructure where rural Veterans reside
    • To promote Promising Practices in rural health care delivery and the provision of benefits and services to rural Veterans