Given the extraordinary focus on the elections this week, it's important that we don't forget that Friday is Veterans Day.
This year, FAMILYConnections celebrates its second year of Operation Veterans to Social Workers (OVSW). OVSW is a unique program to increase the number of veterans entering the field of social work, so that other veterans and their families, who want professional counseling, can get the help they deserve from a fellow veteran who truly understands their background.
FAMILYConnections has assembled a squad of US military veterans who are attending local graduate schools of social work.  They are serving together as interns at FAMILYConnections, providing veterans, reservists and active duty personnel with individual, family and group counseling.
In our second year, our OVSW Squad has grown from four to seven veterans.  They are currently working with more than 30 individuals and families, both men and women from 20 to 70 years old, dealing with issues that include post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, military sexual assault, and relationship problems.
This past September, OVSW hosted the first Essex County Veterans Community Health Fair in collaboration with the Veteran's Total Care Initiative.  The Fair gave veterans and their families the knowledge and awareness of the many free services available in the county outside the VA.
This Veterans Day, we salute our Squad for their past military service and their current service to fellow veterans:
  • Avneesh (Tim) Arora - U.S. Marine Corps.
  • Roderick East - U.S. Air Force (Retired)
  • Omegia Randleman - U.S. Army (Retired)
  • Thomas Shea - Air National Guard
  • Ephraim Travis - U.S. Army
  • Mauricio Diaz - U.S. Army
  • Anthony Ricci - U.S. Navy
  • Jared Barsky - U.S. Navy
The demands of military life and combat experience can take a high toll.  According to the National Council on Behavioral Health - 30% of active duty and reserve military personnel who have been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan have a mental health problem requiring treatment.  Yet less than 50% of them receive treatment.  The Department of Veteran Affairs estimates that roughly 22 veterans die by suicide each day.
If there is a veteran in your life, don't forget to say thank you for their service to our country and our common good.
Jacques Hryshko
Executive Director
Engendering Hope, Enhancing Safety, Healing Trauma,
and Strengthening Families and Communities

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