RECENT VETERAN'S LEGISLATION IN NEW JERSEY
S1731: Establishes "Veteran to Veteran Peer Support Program" telephone helpline. * Bills and Joint Resolutions Signed by the Governor Aug. 19, 2011 Approved P.L.2011, c.116.
An Act concerning a veteran peer support telephone helpline, and supplementing chapter 13 of Title 38A of the New Jersey Statutes.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey: C.38A:13-10 Findings, declarations relative to a veteran peer support telephone helpline.
1. a. The Legislature finds and declares that the Department of Military and Veterans' Affairs, in conjunction with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, has established a veteran to veteran peer support program telephone helpline. The helpline receives and responds to calls from veterans, servicemembers, and their families. It provides them with access to a comprehensive mental health provider network of mental health professionals specializing in post traumatic stress disorder and other veterans issues. All services are free and confidential.
b. Since its inception, the helpline has fielded over 6,000 calls from veterans and their families and based on prior statistics, a 10% increase in calls has been projected.
c. The helpline is funded through an allocation from a State appropriation for post traumatic stress disorder. It is appropriate that the helpline have a separate annual appropriation.
C.38A:13-11 Establishment of helpline.
2. a. The Department of Military and Veterans' Affairs shall establish, in coordination with University Behavioral HealthCare of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, a toll free veteran to veteran peer support helpline.
b. The helpline shall be accessible 24 hours a day seven days per week and shall respond to calls from veterans, servicemembers and their families. The operators of the helpline shall seek to identify the veterans, servicemembers and their families who should be referred to further peer support and counseling services, and provide referrals.
c. The operators of the helpline shall be trained by University Behavioral Healthcare of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and, to the greatest extent RECENT VETERAN'S LEGISLATION IN NEW JERSEY possible, shall be trained veterans or mental health professionals with military service expertise and (1) familiar with post traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury and the emotional and psychological tensions, depressions, and anxieties unique to veterans, servicemembers, and their families or (2) trained to provide counseling services involving marriage and family life, substance abuse, personal stress management and other emotional or psychological disorders or conditions which may be likely to adversely affect the personal and service related well-being of veterans, servicemembers, and their families.
d. The Department of Military and Veterans' Affairs and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey shall provide for the confidentiality of the names of the persons calling, the information discussed, and any referrals for further peer support or counseling; provided, however, the Department of Military and Veterans' Affairs and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey may establish guidelines providing for the tracking of any person who exhibits a severe emotional or psychological disorder or condition which the operator handling the call reasonably believes might result in harm to the veteran or servicemember or any other person.
C.38A:13-12 List of credentialed health care providers.
3. University Behavioral Healthcare of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey shall maintain a list of credentialed military-oriented behavioral healthcare providers throughout the State of New Jersey. Case management services shall also be provided to ensure that veterans, servicemembers, and their families receive ongoing counseling throughout all pre and post deployment events in New Jersey. The continuum of services shall utilize the National Yellow Ribbon guidelines while providing ongoing peer support customized for each branch of military service.
C.38A:13-13 Quarterly consultations.
4. In establishing the helpline authorized under the provisions of section 2 of this act, P.L.2011, c.116 (C.38A:13-11) the Adjutant General of the Department of Military and Veterans' Affairs and University Behavioral Healthcare of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey shall consult on a quarterly basis with the New Jersey Division of Mental Health Services within the Department of Human Services, the United States Department of Veterans' Affairs, the New Jersey Veterans Healthcare Network, at least two New Jersey Veteran Centers, and at least two State recognized veteran groups.
5. There shall be appropriated annually from the General Fund to the Department of Military and Veterans' Affairs a sum sufficient for the operation of the program.
6. This act shall take effect on the first day of the fourth month following enactment, but the Department of Military and Veterans' Affairs and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey may take such anticipatory administrative action in advance thereof as shall be necessary for the implementation of this act..
A2286: Provides for voluntary contributions by taxpayers on gross income tax returns for New Jersey National Guard members and their families in need of assistance. Bills and Joint Resolutions Signed by the Governor Aug. 19, 2011 Approved P.L.2011, c.117.
An Act concerning voluntary contributions through gross income tax returns for New Jersey National Guard members and their families, supplementing chapter 9 of Title 54A of the New Jersey Statutes.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey: C.54A:9-25.29 "NJ National Guard State Family Readiness Council Fund."
1. a. There is established in the Department of the Treasury a special fund to be known as the "NJ National Guard State Family Readiness Council Fund."
b. Each taxpayer shall have the opportunity to indicate on the taxpayer's New Jersey gross income tax return that a portion of the taxpayer's tax refund or an enclosed contribution shall be deposited in the special fund.
c. Any costs incurred by the Division of Taxation for collection or administration attributable to this act may be deducted from receipts collected pursuant to this act, as determined by the Director of the Division of Budget and Accounting. The State Treasurer shall deposit net contributions collected pursuant to this act into the "NJ National Guard State Family Readiness Council Fund."
d. The Legislature shall annually appropriate all funds deposited in the "NJ National Guard State Family Readiness Council Fund" established pursuant to this section to the National Guard State Family Readiness Council for the purposes of providing support to members of the New Jersey National Guard and their families affected by extended deployment during Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
2. This act shall take effect immediately and apply to taxable years beginning after enactment.
Traumatic injury benefits now payable for genitourinary injuries
WASHINGTON – Servicemembers who suffer severe injuries to the genitourinary organs will now be eligible for Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection, or TSGLI.
"We recognize that these types of injuries are devastating and can have a long-lasting impact on the Servicemember's quality of life," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. "It is for this reason that it is appropriate to include genitourinary injuries in the list of payable losses specified in the TSGLI program."
Military doctors reported seeing an increase in these types of injuries, many of which are the result of the nature of current warfare and the use of improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, by enemy combatants.
TSGLI provides a one-time payment to Servicemembers sustaining certain severe traumatic injuries resulting in a range of losses, including amputations; limb salvage; paralysis; burns; loss of sight, and other traumatic losses. Genitourinary injuries for male and female Servicemembers, are being added to the TSGLI schedule of covered losses.
VA also provides health care for genitourinary problems, along with disability compensation for cases of service-related injuries or illnesses involving genitourinary organs.
The first payments for genitourinary losses will be made to eligible Servicemembers and Veterans on Dec.2, eligibility for these new losses will be retroactive to injuries incurred on or after Oct. 7, 2001, the beginning of the Global War On Terror.
For more information on all of the TSGLI eligibility requirements, or to apply for a TSGLI payment, Servicemembers and Veterans should go to www.insurance.va.gov/sgliSite/TSGLI/TSGLI.htm or contact their branch of service TSGLI Office (contact information available at above link).
RISK FACTORS FOR IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN VETS SIMILAR TO VIETNAM VETERANS
Korean war veterans render honors during the playing of taps during a ceremony
commemorating the 58th anniversary of the signing of the Korean War Armistice
at the New Jersey Korean War Memorial in Atlantic City, N.J. on July 27, 2011.
During the ceremony, eight Korean war veterans were awarded the New Jersey
Korean Service Medal. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley,
177th Fighter Wing Public Affairs)
WASHINGTON – Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) researchers from Boston report in the November issue of the Journal of Abnormal Psychology that risk factors for post-traumatic stress symptomatology (PTSS, short of full-blown posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD) in Afghanistan and Iraq Veterans were found to be similar to those observed in Vietnam Veterans.
This suggests that there may be generalized mechanisms and pathways, common to different Veteran populations, through which risk factors contribute to PTSS.
"This research underscores the vital importance of VA's outreach to Veterans, and their families, in helping them cope with posttraumatic stress," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.
The study subjects were a national sample of 579 (333 female and 246 male) Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans exposed to combat operations who had returned from deployment in the 12 months preceding the study. Using data from mailed surveys, the researchers assessed, as predictors of posttraumatic stress symptomatology, several risk factors which were previously documented among Vietnam Veterans. Examples include exposure to combat, pre-deployment stress exposure, dysfunctional family during childhood, lack of post-deployment emotional support from family and friends, and post-deployment stress exposure.
An interesting finding was that the women Veterans surveyed had new risk factors that were not seen in Vietnam- era women, such as exposure to combat and perceived threat. The authors ascribed that finding to the significantly different experiences of female Vietnam War and Afghanistan and Iraq war Veterans. Women Vietnam Veterans were primarily nurses or clerical staff. In contrast, women Veterans' roles in Afghanistan and Iraq have substantially expanded, with much higher levels of exposure to combat. Thus, women Veterans in these more recent conflicts may have more in common with their male contemporaries, in relation to PTSS risk, than with their female counterparts from the Vietnam era. However, in terms of post-deployment readjustment, family relationships during deployment appeared to play a more prominent role in female compared to male Veterans.
"Our findings highlight the impact and role of family disruptions in increasing the risk for posttraumatic stress symptomatology, particularly for female servicemembers," said Dr. Dawne Vogt, the paper's lead author, from the VA Boston Healthcare System. "It is particularly noteworthy that women who experienced relationship problems during deployment, also reported less post-deployment social support."
Veterans who believe they are experiencing symptoms of PTSS or PTSD may call the crisis hotline number at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and then push 1 on their telephone keypad to reach a trained VA mental health professional who can assist the Veteran 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
VA SUPPORT PROGRAM EXPANDING TO MORE VETERANS, SPOUSES
WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs is implementing a telephone support program to help the spouses of returning Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans, after a pilot telephone support program showed significant reduction in stress for spouses.
cant reduction in stress for spouses. "Returning to civilian life after living in constant combat readiness can be a shocking transition, and it is the immediate family, the spouses and children, who bear that brunt of that transition with those who served," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. "The more support we can provide to the family, the better the outcome will be for our Veterans."
The spouse telephone support program, which is part of VA's Caregiver Support Program, builds spouses' ability to cope with the challenges that reintegration to civilian society can bring, helps them serve as a pillar of support for returning Veterans, and eases the transition for families after deployments. Spouses in the pilot program reported decreased symptoms of depression and anxiety, with an increase in social support.
The Brig. Gen. William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery was
the site for the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs'
annual Veterans Day Ceremony on Nov. 11, 2011. Third District
Congressman Jon Runyan was the keynote speaker joining senior
military and veterans' leaders at the ceremony. (U.S. Air Force photo
by Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen, 177th Fighter Wing Public Affairs)
Spouses participate in 12 telephone support groups over six months. The focus is on problem-solving and communication, relationships, mental health and resilience. A trained, nationwide team of VA medical center staff members, including many caregiver support coordinators, will lead the support groups.
Typical issues spouses and Veterans face after deployment include communication difficulties, the need to renegotiate family roles and responsibilities and the added stress of combat related injury. Spouses of Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have reported feeling overwhelmed, depressed, anxious and frustrated.
"Providing support to family caregivers is the right thing for VA to do," said Dr. Robert Petzel, VA's under secretary for health. "A simple series of phone calls can do so much good. Certainly, those who fought for our nation and the spouses who allowed them to make that sacrifice deserve this support."
The program is based on research by VA researchers Dr. Linda Nichols and Dr. Jennifer Martindale-Adams, of the Memphis VA Medical Center and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. Both researchers developed and studied interventions for family members of Veterans and military personnel. Their work with spouses of post-deployed and deployed military personnel is funded through the Defense Health Program, managed by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command.
Local caregiver support coordinators are available to assist Veterans and their caregivers in understanding and applying for VA's many caregiver benefits. VA also has a Web page, www.caregiver.va.gov, with general information on spouse telephone support and other caregiver support programs available through VA and the community.
OPERATION: STAND DOWN
|Above photo: Tech. Sgt. Janeen MacGray, a 108th Contingency Response Group medic takes vital signs from a veteran at the Stand Down of North Jersey at the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Pool and Recreation Center in Newark on Oct. 15, 2011. The New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs along with several veteran organizations participated in the out-reach program by providing more than 500 homeless veterans with clean clothes, warm meals, medical and dental care and information about veterans' state and federal entitlements. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Armando Vasquez, NJDMAVA Public Affairs) Photo right: A veteran cringes as Tech. Sgt. Japera Talib- Moore of the 177th Fighter Wing Medical Group draws his blood on Sept. 23, 2011. The South Jersey Stand Down has served as a catalyst that enables homeless veterans to re-enter mainstream society. (Photo by Kryn P. Westhoven, NJDMAVA Public Affairs)
Commander's Call held
Al Bucchi, director, Veterans Services, New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, was one of the speakers at the Commander's Call, which was held at the National Guard Training Center at Sea Girt, N.J. on Oct. 2, 2011. The call was followed by the annual Military Review. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen, 177th Fighter Wing Public Affairs)
Counterdrug visits Vineland
Members of the New Jersey Counterdrug Task Force visit with Veterans Memorial Home at Vineland resident Anthony Confalone, left to right, Staff Sgt. Edson Casanova, 1st Sgt. Charlie Bethea, Staff Sgt. Wayne Hassall, Master Sgt. Joseph Prieto, Staff Sgt. Paul Summerfield and Tech. Sgt. Debra Zygmunt on Nov. 8. The Task Force has been visiting all three Veterans Memorial Homes for the last three years. (Photo by Lois Balurrio)