To celebrate Veterans Day, New Jersey Health Commissioner Cathleen D. Bennett will join a panel of veterans, peer educators, clinicians and counselors and tour the Vets4Warriors call line located in the Rutgers Behavioral Health Call Center in Piscataway on Nov. 15.
Commissioner Bennett and Frank Ghinassi, Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care President & CEO, will deliver remarks. Vets4Warriors Director Gen. Mark Graham will provide a tour of the call center.
Following their time in the military, veterans often experience a host of service-related and other health issues. The Vets4Warriors call line, operating out of Rutgers Behavioral Health’s national call center, takes in thousands of calls from veterans who are referred by peer mentors to a host of medical and social services that address housing, employment, transportation, financial, mental health and substance abuse issues.
“Integrated primary and behavioral health care is recognized as a desired and effective way to help ensure veterans’ unique needs are met,” Commissioner Bennett said. “By speaking to each individual about other areas of their life where they may need support, clinicians are able to provide linkages to necessary services.”
More than 45 New Jersey veterans are employed at Vets4Warriors. Peer veterans serve as that link to critical services, which include local veteran centers, benefits and eligibility, insurance and transportation programs.
“Some may be serving in other states and are preparing to transition back home and others may be originally from New Jersey but live somewhere else and have family and friends still in the state,” Gen. Graham said. “They can connect no matter where they are in the nation. We ensure those living in New Jersey are connected and are supported by the many excellent programs offered. We can support those leaving the military and moving back to New Jersey in order to support a smooth transition back home.”
About 75 percent of the New Jersey callers are Vietnam era or post-9/11 veterans.
“For many veterans, the transition back to civilian life is daunting and overwhelming,” Commissioner Bennett said. “That’s why they are more likely to take advice from someone who has endured similar experiences.”
Between 900 and 1,000 peer support contacts are made weekly. This includes incoming, outgoing and follow-up calls. The top five issues presented are loneliness, anxiety, depression, relationship and housing.
When: Tuesday, November 15 at 11 a.m.
Where: Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care Call Center
151 Centennial Ave.
Piscataway, NJ 08854
- New Jersey Health Commissioner Cathleen D. Bennett
- Anthony Welch, NJDOH Director of Policy and Strategic Planning
- Frank Ghinassi, Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care President & CEO
- Vets4Warriors Director Gen. Mark Graham
- Representatives of the New Jersey Medical School and Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
- Veterans who have benefited from the behavioral health and social service referrals the program offers
- Trained veteran peer counselors who answer hotline calls 24/7
- Health coordinators who facilitate care and services
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