May 18, 2022

TRENTON – Tomorrow’s meeting of the Senate Military and Veterans Affairs Committee will include a public hearing on the mental health needs of veterans and the status of programs and services already in place to address conditions such as PTSD, substance abuse, suicide prevention and other mental health problems experienced by veterans and their families.

“We want to promote awareness of the services and programs available to veterans so they get the help they need and deserve, including treatment for mental health problems and substance abuse,” said Senator Joe Cryan (D-Union), the committee’s chairman. “Not all wounds are visible, so we have to make sure we are identifying mental health problems and doing all we can to provide treatment. These services can save lives by preventing suicides and help restore the health and wellbeing of veterans and their families.”

The committee will get input on the needs of veterans and available services from officials, veterans organizations, advocacy groups and care providers.

“The coronavirus crisis has exacerbated mental health problems for many people, including veterans,” said Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez (D-Camden), the vice-chair of the committee. “It’s important to get a full understanding of their needs and of the services already in place so we can determine what else should be done.”

The discussion will include specific programs that provide health services to veterans and suicide prevention initiatives.

“We have a moral responsibility to provide those who served and sacrificed to be cared for in times of need,” said Senator Andrew Zwicker (D-Middlesex/Mercer/Somerset/Hunterdon), a committee member. “This hearing will provide a greater understanding of the burdens of veterans and an increased awareness of the help that is available to them.”

The Senate Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee will meet on Thursday, May 19th at 10:00 a.m. in Committee Room 6, 1st Floor, State House Annex in Trenton.

The participants:

  • Colonel (Retired) Walter R. Nall, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Veterans Affairs, Department of Military and Veterans Affairs
  • Ally Kusznikow, Suicide Prevention Coordinator, Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services/Department of Human Services
  • Leah Blain, PhD, Clinic Director & Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at The University of Pennsylvania
  • Amanda Richter, Rutgers (Vet2Vet)
  • Will Sheehan, Chair of the NJRC Veterans Task Force, New Jersey Reentry Corporation
  • Ken Hagemann, State Adjutant/Quartermaster
  • Michael Boll, President, New Jersey Veterans Network
  • Robert E. McNulty, Sr., Vietnam Veterans of America

Dr. Frank Dos Santos, Chief Medical Officer, Clara Maass Medical Center of RWJBarnabas