Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and military service go hand-in-hand. Numerous studies have been conducted to tie the mental health of soldiers returning from active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan to severe depression, substance abuse, and rising suicide rates. Pharmaceutical funder the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation launched its Mental Health & Well Being initiative in 2011, and it just announced ten new grants in this area totaling $3.28 million.
"With the conflict in Iraq now over and the conflict in Afghanistan winding down, the stakes could not be higher for service members, veterans and their families returning to garrison and civilian life," said John Damonti, president of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. "We know the need for integrated community support will continue to escalate as more troops return home and the country continues to downsize its military.”
The ten grants will be going toward sustainable community-based support for veterans and their families. Not surprisingly, some of the grant money is staying in New York City. Although each grant destination is receiving a different sum, the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) is receiving a two-year grant of $330,700 to partner up with the Department of Veteran Affairs and study the medical-legal partnership model in veteran affairs settings. (Read Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation: New York City Grants).
NYLAG provides free civil and legal services to New Yorkers who can't afford a private attorney. While totally unprecedented, this study will examine how services like the ones NYLAG provides can positively impact the mental health of veterans treated in VA mental health and homelessness programs. Surveys have shown that this vulnerable population needs far more access to health-related legal consultation than the average patient.
Here's a rundown of some other organizations slotted to receive grant money from BMS to help veterans mentally adjust to post-war life:
- Connecticut Veterans Legal Clinic - $365,980
- Points of Light, National Council for Behavioral Health and Massachusetts General Hospital - $967,790
- Minnesota Veterans Medical Research and Education Foundation - $601,597
- Rush University Medical Center Department of Behavioral Sciences - $175,000
- Boston University School of Public Health - $1.05 million
- National Alliance on Mental Illness - $750,000