Helping NJ's Veterans Struggling from Mental Illness
Marcy Felsenfeld, Senior Program Officer at the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, talks with Steve Adubato about the importance of identifying the needs of New Jersey’s returning veterans, especially those suffering from mental illness.
"Steve Adubato coming to you from the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey. This is part of our series called Help for Our Heroes. We are pleased to welcome someone who understands the issues our veterans are facing on a regular basis. She is Marcy Felsenfeld, Senior Program Officer, Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey. Marcy, thank you for being with us. And hosting us. The Foundation cares about services to veterans because? The Foundation uses its resources to serve at-risk populations throughout the Essex County area. Veterans are certainly one of those populations. And there has been a lot of coverage about the challenges facing veterans. And it is the perfect population for us to serve with our resources. Mental health high on the list? Mental health needs of the veterans high on the list? Extremely high on the list. Because? In general, mental health issues have a stigma associated with them. Even more so with the veterans population, who see themselves as, you know, self-sufficient, independent, strong. It... mental health challenges can be perceived as weaknesses. And it makes it even more challenging for veterans to access care, to admit that they need help, to admit that they need supports. And it's something that all of us need. It's so interesting, as we're talking to veterans, and by the way, we're gonna have a panel discussion with twelve very prominent experts in the field, advocates in the field, government officials, and others, as part of this Help for Our Heroes series. And we're trying to identify some of the issues. What strikes me is this access issue. Why is it so difficult for so many veterans, and family members, to access the help they need? Well, when veterans reintegrate into society, they are facing a lot of challenges. Connecting with their family, finding themselves, you know, appropriate employment opportunities. Housing? Housing, food, addressing any, you know, legal issues that might have resulted from child payments, from parking tickets, and health at times can be ranked a little bit lower when you're trying to make sure that your children have what they need, that children, you know, have shelter. So, you know, we all have a tendency to not take care of ourselves. And even more so when everything is in flux. Why don't we talk more openly, and more publicly, and more substantively, about the issues veterans face? What is it about us as a society? And the media? Mm hmm. Portrayals of veterans in the media can be extreme. Many of the challenges that are facing our veterans don't rise to the level of drama and some of the images that we see in movies. It's just people who are trying..."