Thursday, October 1, 2009

Helping female vets in New York State

From the NYS Conference of Mental Hygiene Directors Newsletter for September 25, 2009.

NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) Commissioner Karen M. Carpenter-Palumbo announced that Samaritan Village will break ground on a 25-bed facility designed specifically to meet the rehabilitative needs of women veterans, the first of its kind in New York. Samaritan Village has 11 facilities throughout the state, providing substance abuse treatment, homeless services, senior services, and veterans' services.

"Nearly 17 percent of the armed forces are women," said Commissioner Carpenter-Palumbo. "There are 66,000 women veterans in New York State alone, many of whom have experienced the physical and emotional traumas of combat in addition to sexual harassment or assault, which we know when left untreated, often lead to substance use disorders. Women veterans return home expected to resume their role as wife, mother, professional, or family caregiver, but if they are suffering, quietly or not, from post traumatic stress disorder, substance use disorders, mental health issues, or the self-imposed guilt or shame of sexual assault, then we all lose: the individual, the family and the community.” She added, "Samaritan Village is committed to the veterans it serves, and I congratulate them on leading the charge with a unique women's program that is truly first in the nation."

This specialized women's veterans program is made possible through $5 million in funding from the OASAS, and is the result of an RFP released by the state to build 100 residential treatment beds for veterans throughout New York.

In 2007, seven percent of the near 14,000 veterans admitted to the state's treatment system were women — that's almost 1,000 female veterans in need of gender-specific, individualized care. The multifaceted experiences of women in the military generate a need for varied types of treatment upon their return. Vital to their overall health, well-being, long-term recovery, and reintegration into society is treatment provided in a safe and reassuring environment. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs now has staff within every region who serves as a Women Veteran Program Manager to help women veterans connect to expanded health care benefits offered through VA Healthcare. VA Hospitals now provide maternity care, gynecological care, osteoporosis screening and treatment, mental health, as well other health care services. To find a local Women Veteran Program Manager in your region, call 1-800-877-222- VETS (8387).

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