Military Family Center at NYU Langone Health School of Medicine
$50,000 (December 2021); $50,000 (June 2021); $105,000 (March 2020)
April 2020 – December 2022
The number of veteran suicides throughout the country has risen steadily since 2001. In addition, suicide rates for veterans are nearly 70% higher than rates for their civilian counterparts.
The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the mental health of New Yorkers, including veterans, who have experienced high rates of job loss and social isolation. Compounding the challenge, there is a shortage of mental health providers equipped to treat veterans. The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Center’s (MFC) services have been effective in reducing depression and anxiety symptoms and in increasing quality of life—results that are comparable to patients who received face-to-face care. In 2020, NYHealth awarded MFC a grant to expand its no-cost telemental health services as a cost-effective way to overcome barriers in access to care. In 2021, NYHealth awarded MFC a second grant to continue providing free, high-quality telemental health services to veterans in hard-to-reach, under-resourced areas outside of New York City and increase its existing caseload capacity.
The second half of 2021 was an exceptionally difficult and traumatic period for the post-9/11 generation of veterans. The twentieth anniversary of 9/11 was triggering for many and came on the heels of a violent and chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. After the Taliban takeover, 90% of Afghanistan war veterans with a history of mental illness experienced new or worsening mental health symptoms, including depression and thoughts of suicide. In 2021, NYHealth awarded a third grant to MFC, as part of a larger project with New York Cares, Western New York Heroes, and Veterans Outreach Center, to provide community-based mental health and peer support, as well as screenings and support service referrals to veterans across New York State.