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Newsletter | Winter 2021 | South Central MIRECC

Consumer Advisory Board Spotlight: Dr. Estella Morris

By Traci Abraham, PhD, Jeffrey Cully, PhD, and Darrell Zeno, MS

Dr. Estella Morris
Pictured: Dr. Estella Morris poses for tintype photograph by Afghanistan Veteran and international tintype artist, Ed Drew.

The SC MIRECC Consumer Advisory Board (CAB) is composed of Veterans, family caregivers of Veterans, and VA healthcare providers. CAB members draw upon a wealth of knowledge and diverse personal and professional experiences to support VISN 16 leaders, researchers, educators, and clinicians with developing educational programs, research materials/proposals, and clinical services that benefit Veterans and their families. This month, we’re featuring Dr. Estella Morris, who has served on the CAB since its planning and inception in 2001.

Dr. Estella Morris served in the Arkansas Army National Guard for seven years and the U.S. Navy Reserve for three years. She is a graduate of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (1976) and UALR Graduate School of Social Work (1987). In 2003, Dr. Morris earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work from Jackson State University.

Dr. Morris began her career in VA in 1981 as a Social Work Associate in the Independent Living Program - a precursor to the Homeless Program. She presently serves as Comprehensive Homeless Center (CHC) Program Manager and leads the Health Care for Homeless Veterans (HCHV) Program component of the CHC. She is the Homeless Champion and Point of Contact (POC) for Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, as well as POC for the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans and the Congressionally mandated Community Homeless Assessment Local Education Networking Group (CHALENG) Project.

Under her leadership, the HCHV Program has grown from one employee in 1988 to 48 current employees. In 2005, she was appointed Co-Chair of the “10-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness in Central Arkansas” by the mayors of Little Rock, North Little Rock, and Jacksonville. She was awarded the VHA Secretary’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Service to Homeless Veterans (2008). As a member of the Mayor’s Task Force, Dr. Morris was key to helping the City of Little Rock achieve “functional zero” Veteran homelessness status in 2018.

Dr. Morris was a founding member of the CAB and some of her favorite memories are around the face-to-face meetings which occurred when it was first forming. She is particularly proud of recognizing the potential for using community-based interventions to connect Veterans to VHA services at the first CAB meeting, recalling, “I put forth the idea of including Chaplain Service as a way to reach out to, and connect with, rural communities.”

The SC MIRECC CAB meets virtually the first Wednesday of every month. If you are interested in drawing upon the diverse expertise and experience of CAB members to further develop an educational program, research material/proposal, or clinical service, please contact Mr. Darrell Zeno at

Last updated: January 22, 2021