The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey (“the Foundation”), located in Millburn, announced today that it has awarded grants totaling $736,126 to nine local agencies to increase and improve services that address the mental health needs of people who have served in the military and their families. The awards were part of the Foundation’s participation in the national Philanthropy Joining Forces Impact Pledge, spearheaded by First Lady Michele Obama and Dr. Jill Biden. The Foundation is proud to play its part in supporting America’s veterans here in Essex, Morris, and Union Counties.
Over 60% of the funds awarded will go to provide direct mental health supports for servicemen and women and their families through new initiatives such as Main Street Counseling’s Veterans’ Counseling Initiative and the Rutgers FOCUS Center’s Veterans’ Interaction Project. Direct support for female veterans will be provided by Cornerstone Family Programs, and by Rutgers’ University Behavioral Health Services, which will establish Military Mom2Mom, a peer support and resource helpline for veterans and the spouses of veterans struggling with parenting issues as a result of their military involvement. Finally, children of service men and women will be helped to develop resilience and communications skills through Project COMBAT of the Institute for the Study of Child Development, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center, which will develop materials and train 70-100 teachers, mental health professionals, and family workers in Newark pre-schools and Head Start Centers.
Approximately 25% of HFNJ funding will increase access to services and build the capacity of local organizations to better understand and provide needed services to veterans and their families. Among those agencies receiving funding were Community Hope (Lyons), which will hire and train a peer counselor and purchase a handicapped accessible van to provide access to medical, mental health, and substance abuse recovery services for its most disabled veterans; the Corporation for Supportive Housing, which will engage key staff in other provider organizations in an Academy to help develop a better understanding of the myriad barriers to mental health treatment, stable housing, employment, and other components of successful reintegration; and Project PRIDE for Veterans from Trinitas Regional Medical Center (Elizabeth), a cooperative relationship with the VA Outpatient Clinic at New Point to provide individual and group counseling for veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other conflict-related illnesses.
Finally, a grant in the amount of $100,000 was awarded to Volunteer Lawyers for Justice to train attorneys to provide pro bono legal assistance to seek discharge upgrades for people who served in the military but were discharged less than honorably because of undiagnosed mental health issues related to combat that impeded their ability to serve