The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention states veteran suicide deaths are increasing at a greater rate than that of the general U.S. population: 17 veterans lose their lives to suicide every day. Some experts believe the biggest stressors can be related to the world around us, like financial difficulties.
One nonprofit organization in New York is making sure nobody gets left behind in the veteran community, and through their work, is saving lives.
It’s billed as a one-stop shop. Mental Health America’s newest facility for veterans lives up to its designation. In just a few weeks, they’ve already seen an uptick.
What You Need To Know
- Mental Health America’s newest facility for veterans in Pleasant Valley is billed as a one-stop shop where veterans can receive support and services on suicide prevention, housing, employment and transportation to and from medical appointments
- Joseph Mandato, a Vietnam war veteran, recently moved back to New York from Arizona. He says he feels appreciated here
- The nonprofit also provides veterans with socks, clothes, blankets and other items to give veterans a new start
- Alyssa Carrion, an Army veteran, has dealt with her own mental health trauma including PTSD. She’s now giving back to her community as a peer specialist, working mainly on suicide prevention, with Mental Health America of Dutchess County
“It’s been amazingly busy, we probably had 22-23 new veterans contact us in the last couple of weeks,” said Anthony Kavouras, veteran programs director at Mental Health America of Dutchess County.
What they offer is veteran-to-veteran support. From suicide prevention, to housing, to employment, to transportation to and from medical appointments. Kavouras, who was in the military for almost 35 years, says many veterans are strapped financially and struggling to find affordable housing.
Joseph Mandato, a Vietnam War veteran, recently moved back to New York from Arizona. He says he feels appreciated here.
“They helped me out finding a home, a location to live. They helped me out with my first month’s rent, some furniture, a bunch of food, dishware, you name it, I got it from them,” said Mandato.
Kindness that extends throughout the community. On a recent day, a donation drop-off of food items collected by community members. In the old space, Kavouras and his team had their food pantry in a closet.
The room is an upgrade. Kavouras also showed off their newest purchase: a freezer.
“Now we can do meat!” he said.
The nonprofit is also providing veterans with items, including socks, clothes, blankets, to give them a new start. Beyond just lending a helping hand, the goal is to create a safe space for veterans to feel like they can be themselves.
Alyssa Carrion is a West Point graduate and an Army veteran. Carrion has dealt with her own mental health trauma including PTSD. She’s now giving back to her community as a peer specialist, working mainly on suicide prevention.
“A lot of veterans come home and try to fall back into life, and just don’t fit in,” Carrion said. “They need another vet to connect to. And that’s what we provide, is that community.”
Carrion says her lived experience helps her connect with other veterans.
“I have been through some rough struggles,” Carrion said. “I have fought the VA for medication.”
This new facility is offering hope to those who served our country. America’s heroes, who sometimes need help themselves.
Mental Health America of Dutchess County is holding a no-cost wellness retreat for female vets in mid-June, featuring activities like yoga, mindfulness, meditation, drum circles, paint and sip, to name a few.