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Newsletter | Fall 2021 | South Central MIRECC

Targeted Request for Pilot Study Applications Addressing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and/or Community Engagement

By Ellen Fischer, PhD

The South Central MIRECC has issued a request for pilot study applications that address issues of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and/or community engagement. This targeted request supplements but does not replace the existing request for applications (RFA).

The goal of this targeted RFA is to promote research that is both consistent with our mission to:

“promote equity in engagement, access, and quality of mental health care for Veterans facing barriers to care, especially rural Veterans,” and advances DEI and/or community engagement.

The SC MIRECC DEI Statement: The South Central MIRECC strives to promote and celebrate a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion among our staff, across our sites, and in the work we do to improve mental health care for rural and other underserved Veterans.

Under this RFA, SC MIRECC will prioritize pilot studies designed to do one or more of the following:

  • Address inequities in healthcare associated with:
    • Age
    • Race and/or ethnicity
    • Birth sex
    • Sexual orientation
    • Gender identity
    • Socioeconomic status
    • Rural residence
  • Engage diverse groups of Veterans
  • Increase engagement with community partners.

VISN 16 researchers and researchers in San Antonio, Texas, are encouraged to submit observational, intervention or implementation pilot studies that can inform and support highly competitive grant applications to federal agencies. The subsequent full-scale studies should be designed to improve the delivery of services by the VA or to help community partners better serve the behavioral health needs of rural/underserved Veterans. An illustrative, non-exhaustive list of the types of topics that are of potential interest includes:

  • Assessing the perspectives of LGBTQ+ Veterans on LGBTQ+ affirming care in VHA
  • Identifying social determinants of disparities in access to VHA care for mental and substance use disorders
  • Developing a plan to increase engagement of African American Veterans in tobacco cessation treatment
  • Developing an intervention to reduce disparities in access to or quality of services for Veterans with mental and/or substance use disorders that takes into consideration the interaction among system-level characteristics, individual clinical care, and social determinants of health
  • Testing an intervention to reduce depressive symptoms among rural African-American Veterans
  • Engaging Veterans in selecting and adapting strategies for implementing HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)
  • Assessing disparities in the availability of community-based mental health/substance use care for rural Veterans
  • Partnering with community providers to develop strategies for sustainable implementation of evidence-based mental healthcare in community-based practices
  • Collaboration with community-based clergy to address moral injury among Veterans.

Applications will be accepted and reviewed using SC MIRECC’s standard pilot award program procedures. We accept applications four times a year (January 2, April 1, July 1, and October 1). Applicants are notified within 6 weeks whether their application has been approved. Approved pilot studies are expected to be completed in one year. The maximum award for a pilot study is $55,000.

Only doctoral-level researchers in VISN 16 and San Antonio are eligible to apply. Medical students, interns and residents are not eligible to apply unless they request and receive a waiver before submitting an application. These and other elements and requirements are described in the targeted RFA that can be downloaded at Please contact Ellen Fischer, PhD ( with any questions.

Last updated: October 25, 2021