Helpline Mimics Those Created In NJ For Vets and Police Officers
TRENTON – Senator Fred H. Madden (D-Gloucester/Camden) today praised both Senator Frank Lautenberg and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) for their announcement that UMDNJ will operate a national “Vets4Warriors” Helpline. The helpline will assist members of the military once they return home from the battlefield.
“I want to thank our federal delegation, particularly Senator Lautenberg, for their commitment on this issue. Many times we see the physical scars while over looking the mental ones. ‘Vet-2-Vet’ is working to change that by helping our servicemen and women return to civilian life and getting them the assistance they need and deserve. Establishing this program on a national level will do so much to help our veterans,” said Madden.
The national helpline will mimic the “Vet2Vet” program established in New Jersey. The program provides direct counseling services and trains combat veterans to serve as volunteer peer counselors, since they can best understand the strains that veterans feel upon returning home. Senator Madden was a prime sponsor of the legislation that made “Vet2Vet” permanent in New Jersey.
The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey first partnered with the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs six years ago to create the “Vet-2-Vet” program, which managed 3,200 cases in 2009.
Most “Vet-2-Vet” callers are members of the military who served in Iraq or Afghanistan and who are dealing with a variety of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, aggression, post-traumatic stress disorder and thoughts of suicide. Others are under stress simply from trying to reintegrate back into their pre-wartime lives. Since the establishment of the “Vet-2-Vet” program helpline six years ago, there have been no recorded suicides among New Jersey’s National Guard troops deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.
Senator Madden was also the sponsor of a 2006 law to expand the scope of counseling services provided by the “Cop-2-Cop” program, a similar program designed to provide peer counseling to police officers. New Jersey’s “Cop-2-Cop” program is the only one of its kind certified by the American Association of Suicidology.