NJ Veterans Affairs Improves Services for Women in Military
Ray Zawacki, Deputy Commissioner, NJ Department of Veterans Affairs, explains what the VA in New Jersey is offering veterans and how they plan to improve services for women in the military.
"Steve Adubato here at the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey. This is part of a series of interviews we are doing that's simply called Help For Our Heroes. It talks all about veterans in the state and the nation, but particularly here in New Jersey and what they need. We are honored to be joined by Ray Zawacki, who is Deputy Commissioner, New Jersey Department of Veteran Affairs. Good to see you Ray. Good to see you. Biggest issues veterans in New Jersey face are? Probably, in my view, it's homelessness and PTSD problems. Post traumatic stress? Post traumatic stress. Describe what that means for people. They hear that acronym all the time. Well basically it's defined as being an episode or a condition that results from trauma, from experiencing trauma, such as the trauma of combat. Hmm. Some folks, post traumatic stress is a long term thing, and other folks it's not that long term, but getting the individual to recognize that they have it, and getting into treatment for it, because there is treatment for it is the important thing, and that's what we focus on. Trying to help... How hard is that? I mean this whole outreach thing? I mean part of the reason we got into this with the Healthcare Foundation is to try to look at outreach to veterans. First of all, how do they find services? How do the services find them? How does the state do it? Well we, of course we refer a lot of our veterans to the Veterans Administration... the United States Veterans Administration. The VA? The VA. They doing any better by the way? I think they are. And they haven't... really we've never had that much of a problem in New Jersey. The problems have been minimal, except for South Jersey. That's a different story. Why is that different? Well because they have two hospitals that serve them. One in Philadelphia, and one in Wilmington, Delaware. So if you live in Cape May County... You mean it's not in New Jersey? They have to cross the border? They have to cross a border for specialized care. Now there's a lot of community based outpatient clinics, but they don't provide all the services that veterans need. Specialty care in particular. Is mental health at the top of the list in terms of...? I know there are so many needs. you got homelessness, or employment, or underemployment, or unemployment, you got substance abuse issues, but when it deals with mental health, I know they're not all separate, they come together in so many ways. Do you consider mental health the number one issue facing vets? Probably is. Probably is. Primarily because of pts... Post traumatic..."