OKLAHOMA CITY – Sen. Mary Boren had the opportunity to represent Oklahoma as a judge for the 2021 State Transformation in Action Recognition (STAR) Award at the 75th Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) Annual Meeting in Nashville July 10-14. The Norman Democrat was joined by 14 other legislators and legislative staff representing their member states.
The SLC STAR Award identifies and promotes state government solutions to regional problems, focusing on policy innovations that are creative, impactful, transferable, and effective. Following an initial review by SLC staff, five finalists were invited to present at the SLC annual meeting. The STAR Judges Panel then selected two exceptional programs as winners of the STAR Award.
“It was an honor to be asked to be on this panel, and help recognize the hard work, dedication and creativity of these state agencies and their outstanding programs,” Boren said. “State service can often be a thankless profession as government services are just expected, and many often forget the men and women behind the scenes providing those vital services and programs. The STAR Award ensures their efforts are properly recognized and their innovative ideas are shared with other states to further improve services for all citizens, regardless of where they live.”
Virginia won both awards for its Department of Veterans Services’ Military Medics and Corpsmen (MMAC) program and its Department of Corrections’ (VADOC) Secure Diversionary Treatment Program (SDTP). The first program offers clinical, leadership, and non-clinical career pathways to veterans and military spouses seeking healthcare careers within the state. When transitioning to the civilian workforce, veterans can struggle to translate their military healthcare experience into civilian healthcare employment. Therefore, many are unemployed, underemployed, or not working in the healthcare field. The MMAC program addresses this challenge by recruiting, reviewing, and referring candidates to healthcare employers statewide. By facilitating hiring, MMAC reduces healthcare staffing shortages and supports quality patient care.
The SDTP is an effort to safely manage the increasing inmate population with a serious mental illness (SMI) in the criminal justice system. It was developed to divert inmates with an SMI, who are at risk of engaging in disruptive and dangerous behavior, from a restrictive housing setting into a program where their unique needs are met and supported. By diverting these inmates into a treatment-focused environment, dedicated staff can provide opportunities for participants to manage their mental illness, improve pro-social metrics, and eventually reintegrate successfully into the prison general population or society upon release.
SLC is the nation’s largest regional gathering of state legislators, legislative staff and government officials representing 15 states. The SLC annual meeting provides policymakers an opportunity for engaging regional and national policy experts about the most critical and relevant state government policy issues facing the southern region.
Sen. Boren: (405) 521-5553 or Mary.Boren@oksenate.gov