NJ Vet2Vet, funded by the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, is a peer-counseling program for assuring veterans' mental health, and it has had highly effective results.
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New Jersey Outreach Program to Prevent Suicide Among Reservists

Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, left untreated, can lead to suicide. NJ Vet2Vet, run by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and funded by the state's Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, is a peer-counseling program for assuring veterans' mental health, and it has had highly effective results.

NJ Vet2Vet was launched in 2005 to provide counseling to New Jersey Reservists and National Guard members returning from tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

NJ Vet2Vet trains combat veterans to be peer counselors, finding that military service members feel more comfortable talking to their peers rather than civilian counselors.

According to Chuck Arnold, retired Army master sergeant with a graduate degree in counseling and director of NJ Vet2Vet, Vet2Vet assistance is free for as long as the service member needs.

In 2011, NJ Vet2Vet reported approximately 150 calls a month, helping military service members break through emotional and physical barriers and receive the help they deserve.

New Jersey is also leading the way for Reservist recognition, working to provide the same level of mental health and medical support as the state offers to full-time service members and military veterans.

Linda Bean of East Rutherford, N.J. lobbied Congress to approve legislation named for her son, Sergeant Coleman, who committed suicide while waiting to be admitted to a VA hospital for mental health issues. Bean promotes programs like NJ Vet2Vet as setting an example for national efforts to prevent veteran suicide among Reservists and former active duty service members.

The legislation, re-introduced in 2011 by Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., and Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., would require the Pentagon to provide inactive National Guard members and reservists -for example, Individual Ready Reserve members like Coleman Bean - with access to military mental health services on par with services available to full-time active duty soldiers on military bases.

The legislation passed the House in 2010, but stalled in the Senate. The stall was attributed to criticisms regarding the necessity of special programs for part-time soldiers, in addition to a suicide hotline.


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