Press ReleaseDate: 08-19-11
Name: Jeffrey Tolvin Phone: 973 972 4501
Governor Signs Bill Officially Establishing NJ Vet2Vet as Veterans Helpline
The Governor said, "It's only fitting that we recognize the sacrifices of our veterans and provide assistance as a token of our gratitude for the service they provide to our country."
The helpline, operated by University Behavioral HealthCare at UMDNJ in collaboration with the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, was launched in 2005 as a free service to New Jersey veterans and their families provided by veterans trained in peer support. Since its inception, the helpline has responded to more than 6,000 calls. NJ Vet2Vet is being studied as a model for a national veterans support strategy. The helpline was implemented earlier this year at the U.S. Army's largest base, Fort Hood, Texas.
"At UMDNJ, we are honored to be able to provide support to our military personnel and their families. We are extremely proud of what NJ Vet2Vet has achieved in six years," said Dr. William F. Owen, Jr., president of the University. "We are particularly grateful to Governor Christie and Senator Fred Madden and Assemblyman Jack Conners for their support of this legislation and our veterans. We are also appreciative of the support of Maj. Gen. Glenn Rieth and the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. In handling more than 6,000 calls, the helpline has given veterans and their families much needed support and guidance, while establishing a model that we hope can be implemented nationwide. We are especially excited that this is happening now because we anticipate that the services NJ Vet2Vet provides will be needed now more than ever before when our troops begin to return home from the war zone in greater numbers."
Governor Christie noted, "I am particularly happy that Dr. Owen is here today. Dr. Owen and UMDNJ have been huge supporters of our veterans. UMDNJ has made us proud by its support of our veterans and I thank Dr. Owen for his leadership."
General Rieth, Adjutant General of New Jersey, called NJ Vet2Vet a "true success story of intragovernmental teamwork -- an incredibly efficient program," and thanked the Governor for signing the legislation.
The helpline for New Jersey veterans is part of a comprehensive support effort for servicemen and women and their families seeking assistance dealing with issues ranging from thoughts of suicide, stress reaction and post traumatic stress disorder, to marital and financial matters.
The legislation calls for a continuation of the helpline as it currently operates -- around the clock, staffed by trained veterans or mental health professionals with military service expertise, with case management services provided to ensure that veterans, service members and their families receive support through pre- and post-deployment events. It is important to note that peer supporters work with a soldier or family member for as long as it takes for resolution of the issues that led to contacting the helpline.
The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) is the nation's largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 6,000 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and its only school of public health on five campuses. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, which provides a continuum of healthcare services with multiple locations throughout the state.