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Veterans Health Alliance of Long Island: The New Group’s Groups

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Last week I wrote about a new group in town, Veterans Health Alliance of Long Island ("VHALI") (

) - a veterans support consortium, whose mission is to "Promote the health and well-being of veterans and their families through advocacy, and a broad array of services," briefly mentioning the local organizations currently taking part in this alliance (or so I thought; read on) and its initial three workgroups: Outreach, Advocacy, and Program & Training. This week I'll look at the individual members of the alliance. And, correct an oversight -- I failed to mention three of VHALI's members: Assemblymember Michelle Schimel, FREE, and The Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center at Northport.

About VHALI's Members

Assemblymember Michelle Schimel

-- Representing the 16th Assembly District Assemblymember Schimel's committee memberships include: Energy, Environmental Conservation, Local Governments, Transportation, and Veterans' Affairs. VHALI has Assemblymember Schimel to thank for providing the needed funding to produce its first educational flyer on veterans post-deployment issues: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Veteran Related Community Resources (


Central Nassau Guidance & Counseling Services, Inc.

-- The mission of Central Nassau Guidance & Counseling Services, Inc. is to provide clinical treatment, rehabilitation, housing opportunities, social and support services, counseling and guidance to individuals, families and the community affected by mental illness, developmental disabilities, psychological difficulties, addiction and/or dependency problems (


Family and Children's Association

-- Their mission is to protect and strengthen Long Island's children, individuals, families and communities. They achieve this by providing a coordinated system of more than 40 individual programs designed to help babies, children, adults, senior citizens, and families lead more self-sufficient lives. They have served the people of Nassau and Suffolk counties for more than a century (


Family Residencies and Essential Enterprises, FREE

-- Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, Inc. was founded in April 1977 by a group of parents and consumer advocates in response to the need for community residential alternatives to the institutionalization of individuals with mental challenges and developmental disabilities. Since that time, Family Residences has established a wide range of services for persons with disabilities residing in either Nassau or Suffolk Counties in New York. Residential and vocational programs have been created to provide nurturing and supportive environments in the community. Essential to the successful integration of differently-abled individuals into the community is the support and participation of friends and family. Therefore, Family Residences & Essential Enterprises strives to strengthen these relationships which provide the necessary foundations from which we build (


Hofstra University

-- Provides more than 140 undergraduate and 150 graduate programs, in Liberal Arts and Sciences, Business, Communication, Education and Allied Human Services and Honors studies, as well as a School of Law. The student-faculty ratio of 14 to 1, have library resources with extensive online and print collections, provide state-of-the-art classrooms, learning and laboratory facilities, on their 240-acre campus (


Mental Health Association of Nassau County

-- The Mental Health Association of Nassau County (MHA) is a not-for-profit membership organization dedicated to improving mental health in their community through advocacy, education, program development and the delivery of direct services. Since its founding in 1953, the MHA has advocated for the needs of adults and children with psychiatric and emotional difficulties. They focus upon educating the community-at-large and assisting people get to the services they needed. They opened the first group home in Nassau County, the first children's residence for autistic children, the first supported education program for college students and the first newly constructed permanent-home apartment complex for adults with psychiatric disabilities. (


Mental Health Association of Suffolk County, Inc.

-- Established in 1955, The Mental Health Association in Suffolk County, Inc. (MHAS) is dedicated to improving the mental health of all people in the community through cooperation with other public and private agencies having similar goals. MHAS strives to educate the community towards a realistic view of those who are affected with mental illness and the treatment options available. We accomplish this goal through education, support, program development, referral services and advocacy (


Nassau County Department of Mental Health Chemical Dependency and Developmental Disabilities Services

-- Taken from the 2nd Annual Nassau County Rehabilitation and Recovery Conference entitled, "Beyond Hope: Building a Recovery Based System in Nassau County," Family Support, Non-coercive Suicide Prevention, Cultural Competence, Health and Wellness, and Psychiatric Rehabilitation (


Nassau County Veterans Service Agency

-- The Nassau County Veterans Service Agency is there to serve. With a myriad of federal, state and local programs available to our veterans. It is the mission of the Agency to ensure that you are receiving the benefits and services that you are entitled to. In addition, the Agency performs a vital function through a volunteer program in transporting veterans to the VA Hospital in Northport, helping veterans obtain their real property tax exemption, discharge upgrades and so much more (


New Ground

-- In 1991, New Ground was formed; a unique agency committed to educating and empowering families who were once caught in the vicious cycle of homelessness. New Ground recognizes that the key to solving homelessness is not only to help the families who are homeless, but also to prevent it in the future. Their goal is to decrease recidivism and to empower individuals to function independently. They identify and respond to those families at risk through intensive case management programs that provide educational, technical, and emotional support. Working with institutions in the public and private sector, New Ground involves existing agencies to respond better to the growing needs and challenges of Long Island's homeless population. "Compaeros, take heart - though your roots be torn, they will grow again in New Ground..." Sanctuary: The Spirit of Harriet Tubman (


New York State Office of Mental Health Long Island Field Office

-- New York State has a large, multi-faceted mental health system that serves more than 500,000 individuals each year. The Office of Mental Health (OMH) operates psychiatric centers across the State, and also regulates, certifies and oversees more than 2,500 programs, which are operated by local governments and nonprofit agencies. These programs include various inpatient and outpatient programs, emergency, community support, residential and family care programs (


North Shore-Long Island Jewish Rosen Center

-- The Florence and Robert A. Rosen Family Wellness Center provides services for law enforcement and military personnel and their families and is dedicated to helping those who help us. The Rosen Family Wellness Center serves: local, state and federal law enforcement officers and their families; active duty military personnel and their families; members of the Reserves, Naval Militia, National Guard and Service Academies, and their families; and, veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom/Enduring Iraqi Freedom, Desert Storm, other qualified veterans, and veterans' family members. The staff at the Rosen Center are experienced in dealing with the issues specific to these groups, with some of the issues these personnel and their families face being: long-term exposure to stressful or traumatic events as a result of law enforcement or deployment duties; fear for the safety of their loved one who's a member of local law enforcement and first responder to terrorist threats; rotating shifts, weekend and holiday work law enforcement personnel do can cause stress on families; fear for the safety of loved ones deployed overseas; prolonged separation for those deployed overseas; reintegration of families after a long deployment; and, limited social support for reservists and their families because of reduced availability of military bases (


Peninsula Counseling Center

-- Founded in 1913, Peninsula Counseling Center is licensed by the New York State Office of Mental Health and the New York State Division of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse. A staff of 126, which includes 77 psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, psychiatric nurses, vocational rehabilitation counselors and social workers, in addition to administrative staff, provides 1,450 hours per week of professional time for mental health and alcoholism treatment services to the community (


The Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center at Northport

-- Northport VAMC is part of the NY/NJ Veterans Integrated Service Network 3 ("VISN 3"). Affiliated with the State University of New York Medical School at Stony Brook, Northport VAMC offers medical, surgical, psychiatric, rehabilitative and skilled nursing care to Long Island veterans with services that include: Homeless Veterans Treatment Program; Pharmacy; Readjustment Office; Research and Development Program (in operation since 1971, includes medical, psychological and surgical research); Social Work (includes counseling...: drug, alcohol, and emotional problems; veterans and their families understand and adjust to an illness or disability, prepare advance directives and durable powers of attorney for health care or finances, cope with terminal illness; and family members about other legal issues); Twenty-five Specialty Clinics (includes: Audiology and Speech Pathology, Cardiology, Dental, Endocrinology, GI, Hematology-Oncology, Nephrology, Pulmonary, Neurology, Optometry, Orthopedics, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitative Services, Psychology, Psychiatry, Radiation/Oncology Recreation Therapy); and, a Women's Health Program that includes clinical services such as gynecology, mammography, reproductive care, and menopause treatment (


The INN, Interfaith Nutrition Network

-- The Interfaith Nutrition Network addresses the issues of hunger and homelessness on Long Island by providing food, shelter, long-term housing and supportive services in a dignified and respectful manner for those who seek our help. The INN was founded in 1983 as a single soup kitchen run by a small group of volunteers. The INN has grown to become the largest private social service agency of its kind on Long Island. Many of the children and adults who visited The INN were also homeless. The INN responded to this problem by opening its first emergency shelter in 1984, and began to institute a series of wide-ranging programs to help people from all over Long Island who were plagued by hunger and homelessness (


Vietnam Veterans of America #82 Nassau County's Chapter

-- Providing services to the 140-plus communities in Nassau County's three towns, our "Declaration of Principles" includes: WE, the veterans who served during the Vietnam War, who embraced through sacrifice and service to country the most fundamental and cherished bonds of our democracy, reaffirm that commitment to spirit and ideals, accepting it as the solemn responsibility of our survival, to bear the burden of what has been, so that tragedy once endured can never be forgotten; AND so do we resolve that the true measure of our worth as citizens, as veterans, and as patriots be found in our willingness to draw from and abide by these strengths and convictions born of heritage and experience; TO HOLD that a sacred and binding contract exists between governors and governed, with the latter recognizing an obligation of compulsory foreign or domestic service equitably shared by all, and the former morally obligated to implement foreign and domestic policies that are clear, consistent, and reflective of the will of the people; TO HOLD further, that the contract extends to post obligatory service with the Nation, bound whenever and wherever appropriate to the prompt delivery of compensation to individuals or survivors in direct proportion to sacrifice and service rendered; TO HONOR with dignity the sacred memory of the war dead, and so in dignity, insure that the lasting legacy of the fallen is responsibility toward, not exploitation of, their sacrifice, and; TO STAND for cooperation, dialogue, and friendship among the nations of the world community, with full respect and support of those principles central to our national life (


Vietnam Veterans of America New York State Council

-- The Council represents the chapters of the Vietnam Veterans of America located in New York State, and their interests. It does this by: IDENTIFYING issues of concern to Vietnam Era Veterans at the local, state and national levels; DEVELOPING policy statements which address those issues; EXAMINING legislative or administrative proposals which may affect Vietnam Era Veterans and their families; PROVIDING input, through communications with appropriate officials, as to the positions of Vietnam Era Veterans of New York State relative to such matters; ESTABLISHING communications networks to assist Vietnam Era Veterans in gaining awareness of those issues which may affect their social, economic, educational or physical well-being, and; PROVIDING a mechanism by which Vietnam Era Veterans may raise issues of concern (


This Week's Not Commented on Topic - A Dollar For Veterans, But Then Three Dollars For Me!

A SAD EXCUSE FOR A VETERANS' CHARITY -- "The disgusting details are enough to make you shake your head in angry disbelief... Profiting from the war in Iraq this way is despicable." The disgusting details are enough to make you shake your head in angry disbelief. One of the larger veteran charities in the nation appears to be doing far less for the hospitalized veterans it claims to serve than for the charity's founder and his wife. Profiting from the war in Iraq this way is despicable. The congressional hearings that have uncovered this sleazy arrangement should only be the first step. It might be time for Congress to mandate that nonprofit organizations and charities inform potential donors of how their money is being spent. Roger Chapin has founded more than 20 nonprofit organizations in the last 30 years, including Help Hospitalized Veterans, which primarily donates "craft kits" to hospitalized and home-bound veterans. But unlike most reputable charities, Help Hospitalized Veterans spends most of the money coming in on something other than war veterans. From 2004 to 2006, veterans have received only 25 percent of the $168 million raised by the charities Chapin was charged with running, according to Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee. The lion's share of the money went to fundraising and overhead, while $1.5 million went to Chapin and his wife in compensation and another $340,000 went to reimburse them for expenses such as restaurant meals and hotels. According to the Washington Post, Chapin's wife, Elizabeth, received $113,623 in salary and benefits over the last fiscal year as "newsletter editor." There were other questionable big ticket expenditures as well, including the purchase of a condo, $100,000 to Gen. Tommy Franks whose name was used in fundraising letters, a loan of $135,000 to the Help Hospitalized Veterans' executive director Mike Lynch with his divorce settlement, and $17,000 for a country club membership. If only Chapin's actions were anomalous, they could be chalked up to one shyster. But the committee has found that other charities that trade on concern for veterans, such as American Veterans Coalition, American Veterans Relief Foundation and Disabled Veterans Association, also spend more than 75 percent of the donations they receive on something other than helping vets, largely on fundraising. The generally accepted standard is that organizations should spend no more than one third of their revenues on fundraising expenses, and groups should be spending at least 60 percent of their revenues on their bona-fide charitable programs.

--- Regards, Walt Schmidt