NASW-NYS Convenes Long Island Providers to Enhance Mental Health Treatment for Veterans in the Community

Senator Lee Zeldin will speak to more than 250 social workers and other mental health professionals as he kicks-off the Veterans Mental Health Training Initiative Conference in Melville, NY on Friday September 27th.

Print Email

Melville, NY - September 25th, 2013 - The NASW-NYS Veterans Mental Health Training Initiative (VMHTI) is hosting more than 250 social workers and other community mental health providers on Friday, September 27, 2013 at the Hilton Long Island in Melville, NY to promote understanding of military culture and provide evidence based skills for screening, assessment and treatment of mental health issues in veterans. The conference will kick off with opening remarks from Veteran and outspoken advocate for veterans services, Senator Lee Zeldin (3rd Senate District).

The VMHTI conference sponsored by the New York State Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers will feature a morning plenary session on understanding military culture and panel of veterans and military family members who will share their first-hand experiences of life in the military. Workshop topics include screening and assessment of PTSD & TBI, treatment of substance misuse with veterans, suicide prevention, the integration of spirituality in treatment with veterans and issues specific to women veterans.

“Community mental health providers, especially here on Long Island where there is a significant veteran population, want to better prepare themselves to meet the needs of our returning veterans,” says NASW-NYS Executive Director Ray Cardona. “Our VMHTI is in its third year and the demand for this kind of training remains strong.”

More than 85,000 men and women from New York State have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001.  Many of whom have been assigned to multiple deployments.  The extreme strain of deployment(s) on service members has resulted in unprecedented rates of health and mental health problems, most notably, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI).  A 2011 assessment of The Needs of New York State’s Returning Veterans and Their Families conducted by the RAND Corporation found that 34% of respondents self-indicated a need for mental health treatment, yet there is an insufficient supply of providers who are adequately trained in meeting the needs of this unique and growing population. 

After sacrificing their lives for the betterment of our own, our veterans deserve nothing short of exemplary care,” said Senator Zeldin. “I applaud the VMHTI for fostering a deeper understanding of these issues and for taking an active role improving the lives of these dedicated individuals.”

Friday’s event is the third such conference sponsored in 2013 by the VMHTI; events in Buffalo and Binghamton were held in the spring. The VMHTI is a multi-year comprehensive training project with the goal of increasing the number of community mental health professionals who are knowledgeable about the assessment and treatment of mental health issues specific to veterans and their families.  To date, over 1800 providers across NYS have received training through the VMHTI during its three years of operation. The 2013 series of VMHTI programming is supported by a grant from the NYS Legislature.

For more information about the VMHTI, please visit their website.