County Executive Isiah Leggett, a combat veteran of the Vietnam War, today unveiled a series of initiatives aimed at helping address the mental health and social service needs of Montgomery County veterans and their families. Leggett made his announcement the Mental Health Association of Montgomery County’s Annual Legislative Breakfast, held in Rockville.
"As we approach our celebration of Veterans Day, it is important that we recognize and honor the sacrifices that veterans have made for this country,” said Leggett. “We should welcome them home and at the same time, make certain that they are provided with care and services due them. With the upcoming transfer of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center to Bethesda, it is important that we work with our community, as well as with state and federal officials, to ensure we are ready.”
Leggett today released a report, co-sponsored by the Community Foundation of the National Capital to identify the needs of veterans in Montgomery County and determine what local governments and community-based nonprofit organizations can do to complement government and national nonprofit efforts. Results of the study show that
the signature wounds and injuries of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)—traumatic brain injury, amputations, post traumatic stress disorder and depression pose serious treatment challenges and typically require not only extended and specialized care , but also support and assistance for the entire family ranging from respite care to home modifications. In addition, there are few connections between the civilian helping organizations and the military helping organizations. The report is available at www.thecommunityfoundation.org.
When the study concluded, an estimated 37,000 solders from the National Capitol Region had “ever deployed” and an estimated 6,000 were “currently deployed” to either or both Afghanistan and Iraq. There are an estimated 18,000 spouses and more than 25,000 children in the region.
Leggett announced the launching of a mental health information and referral line for veterans and their families. The service will be operated by the Mental Health Association of Montgomery County (MHA) and will begin answering calls on November 17. The County is providing $40,000 to establish the service.
“While government ramps up its programs to meet the complex needs, we believe our regions’ community-based nonprofits can help provide critical services for our military families, especially during these bleak economic times,” said Terri Lee Freeman, President of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region.
“We have seen an increase in the demand for our services since the first local residents were deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq,” said Sharon E. Friedman, LCSW-C, Executive Director at Mental Health Association of Montgomery County. “The addition of these specialized information and referral services is much needed. MHA is proud to be a part of the County’s efforts to support veterans and their families.”
Leggett has also nominated members to his Veterans Commission. The Commission will advise the County Executive and the County Council on actions the County can take to honor and assists veterans. Issues that the Commission will begin work on immediately are to plan and convene a regional conference in 2009 aimed at coordinating services for veterans across the region, design and sponsor an enhanced County celebration of Veterans Day and to recommend an appropriate memorial for County veterans who lost their lives in our nation’s wars.
In addition to these services, Montgomery College’s Extended Learning Services Office, with primary support from the Takoma Park/Silver Spring campus, provides information and services for Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) employees and Wounded Warriors at WRAMC, including on-site classes, advising for those classes as well as classes on the College’s two three campuses, and life planning services. Three quarters of the current Montgomery College (MC) class at WRAMC are Wounded Warriors and many of them enroll at MC campuses.
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