Mayor de Blasio and James Hendon, Commissioner of Department of Veterans Services (DVS), shared news of an expansion of mental health services for veterans, as well as additional programs to support city veterans.
Mayor de Blasio said in a press release that, “As the son of a World War II veteran, I know the men and women who serve our country can carry a tremendous pain that is still felt years or decades later.”
De Blasio added, “As the only city with our own Department of Veterans Services, New York City is here to help its veterans shoulder the load, and today that means providing them with new tools to look after their mental health. I’m proud of the successes DVS has achieved so far, and I know this announcement will lead to further victories for our city’s veterans in years to come.”
The expansion will include some new programs including, but not limited to: peer support, training for mental health professionals, holistic mental health treatments, legal services and more.
Here’s a breakdown of the new programs from a press release:
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 will 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. With an honorable discharge status, more veterans will be able to receive VA services previously denied to them, including mental health care.
PTSD Treatment: In collaboration with the Research & Recognition Project, a national leader in reconsolidation of traumatic memory (RTM) protocol, the City will recruit licensed mental health professionals for training in RTM, a PTSD treatment method created through working with 9/11 survivors.
Holistic Services: Through public-private partnerships, the City will support veteran-specific holistic treatments, including service animals, meditation training, yoga and expressive therapy. Through coordinated partnerships with VA medical centers and veterans services organizations, DVS will encourage veterans and their families to seek out additional therapies to complement their mental health care treatment.
Peer Support: Thanks to a $300,000 State grant, the City will create a peer-to-peer program for Veterans facing the challenges of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury. The program will be administered through the Joseph P. Dwyer Veterans Peer Support Project.
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, there will be a new program called Service2Service, which is a joint DVS and New York City Partnership, which connects AmeriCorps alumni and veterans with mentors in the government to help them find careers within the city.
NYC Chief Service Officer Anusha Venkataraman said in a press release that, “NYC Service is so proud to partner with DVS on Service2Service to create a space where these civic leaders can make connections, develop professionally, and discover the next step in their legacy of service.”