Photo Courtesy of Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office
The City announced the expansion of mental health services for NYC vets Monday morning at a Gracie Mansion breakfast reception in honor of Veterans Day.
By Forum Staff
The City Department of Veteran Services is set to establish a suite of programs that will revamp the City’s mental health efforts for veterans and touch on a variety of mental health components, ranging from peer support and training for mental health professionals to holistic mental health treatments and legal services, Mayor Bill de Blasio and DVS Commissioner James Hendon announced Monday at a Gracie Mansion breakfast reception in honor of Veterans Day.
The new mental health programs that were part of Monday’s announcement include:
- Mental Health Support: DVS will recruit more vetted mental health partners to its VetConnectNYC referral service. This will allow the department to scale up all its mental health initiatives, including the VetsThriveNYC Core 4 whole health model, a community and peer-based approach that engages veterans both in clinical settings and through lower-stigma methods such as peer support and cultural engagement.
- Legal Services: The City has promised to help provide grants to legal-services organizations that will help veterans challenge their discharge status, including LGBTQIA+ veterans given less than honorable discharges due to their orientation or gender identity.
- PTSD Treatment: In collaboration with the Research & Recognition Project, a national leader in reconsolidation of traumatic memory protocol, the City will recruit licensed mental health professionals for training in RTM, a post-traumatic stress disorder treatment method created through working with Sept. 11 survivors.
- Holistic Services: Through public-private partnerships, the City will support veteran-specific holistic treatments, including service animals, meditation training, yoga, and expressive therapy.
- Peer Support: Thanks to a $300,000 State grant, the City will create a peer-to-peer program for veterans facing the challenges of PTSD and traumatic brain injury.
- Interagency Mental Health Task Force: The City will join a new Mental Health Advisory Council with local, state, federal and private partners through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Additionally, de Blasio and Hendon on Monday unveiled Service2Service, a new joint City mentorship initiative through DVS and NYC Service. Service2Service will aid NYC veterans and AmeriCorps alumni by connecting them with City employee mentors. According to the administration, the program aims to build relationships between service-minded New Yorkers and empower mentees with the network, knowledge, and resources to continue a legacy of service with the City. The inaugural class of Service2Service participants will include 40 City employees, 20 veterans, and 20 AmeriCorps alumni for a six-month mentorship program.
“Too many of the tragedies that befall our veterans after coming home—whether it’s a struggle with addiction or the crisis of veteran homelessness—are linked to the lack of appropriate tools to address their mental health challenges. So I can think of nothing better we can give our veterans on this important day than a full toolbox to help ensure their needs are taken care of,” said Lt. Col. James Hendon, Commissioner of the Department of Veterans Affairs.