The Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey in Millburn has awarded grants totaling $736,126 to nine local agencies to increase and improve services that address the mental health needs of people who have served in the military and their families in Essex, Morris, and Union counties. The awards were part of the foundation’s participation in the national Philanthropy Joining Forces Impact Pledge, spearheaded by First Lady Michele Obama and Dr. Jill Biden.
Over 60 percent of the funds awarded will go to provide direct mental health supports through such new initiatives as Main Street Counseling’s Veterans’ Counseling Initiative and the Rutgers FOCUS Center’s Veterans’ Interaction Project. Direct support for female veterans will be provided by Cornerstone Family Programs (headquartered in Morristown) and by Rutgers University Behavioral Health Services, which will establish Military Mom2Mom, a peer support and resource helpline for veterans and spouses struggling with parenting issues.
Project COMBAT — at the Institute for the Study of Child Development at Rutgers’ Robert Wood Johnson Medical School — will help children of service men and women develop resilience and communications skills. The grant will underwrite the creation of materials and training of 70-100 teachers, mental health professionals, and family workers in Newark preschools and Head Start centers.
Approximately 25 percent of the funding will increase access to services and build local organizations’ capacity to provide services. Among the agencies receiving such funding are Community Hope in Lyons, the Corporation for Supportive Housing, and Project PRIDE for Veterans at Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth.
Finally, a grant in the amount of $100,000 was awarded to Volunteer Lawyers for Justice to train attorneys to provide pro bono assistance seeking discharge upgrades for people who served in the military but were discharged less than honorably because of undiagnosed mental health issues. Attorneys interested in receiving this training should contact Karen Sacks at firstname.lastname@example.org.