How Foundations are Healing the Other Collateral Damage of War

Many soldiers returning from the wars in the Middle East are plagued with severe depression, and most suffer some form of post-traumatic stress disorder. The U.S. Military lacks the resources necessary to treat every soldier that needs help, especially when including military reservists and the National Guard. The Bristol-Meyers Squibb Foundation has responded to the military's call for help, awarding over $2 million to help soldiers leave the desert mentally as well as physically (see BMS Foundation: Grants for Mental Health).

Soldiers returning home from the wars in the Middle East are a tough bunch. Upon their return, a great number of these war vets have a difficult time adjusting their mentality to a non-war status. Their bodies are home, but their minds are still in the desert. Being as tough and proud as these men and women are, it's no surprise that only 50% of returning soldiers that need mental and emotional help after returning from war seek treatment. A scary thought when considering that during the first six months of 2012, the number of suicides among military personnel was higher than the number of fatalities in Afghanistan. To that end, of the $2.12 million the Bristol-Meyers Squibb Foundation has granted toward the mental health of our troops, nearly $700,000 was dedicated to Suicide Prevention International (read BMS Foundation president John Damonti's IP profile).

The Foundation has also partnered with UNC Chapel Hill, Massachusetts General, MDRC, and the Mental Health Association of New York State to fund programs that help soldiers and their families traverse the often rocky terrain of adjusting to home life after returning from war. Some Foundation sponsored programs also address the emotional issues of the 2 million military children that have seen their moms and dads go off to war for one or more deployments.

Finally, in conjunction with the Wal-Mart and American Psychiatric Foundations, the Bristol-Meyers Squibb Foundation is supporting the Give an Hour project in Norfolk, Virginia and Fayetteville North Carolina — the two areas in the United States with the largest military populations. This program calls for mental health providers to give an hour of their time to provide free mental health services for military men and women affected by the wars in the Middle East.