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Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders Hold Outreach Event to Combat Veteran Suicide

(Passaic County, NJ) – On February 27th, 2018, the Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders unanimously passed resolution R20170938, which authorizes the collaboration of county departments to raise awareness of resources available to Veterans through the VA (US Department of Veteran’s Affairs) and other organizations. On March 28th, the County of Passaic will hold its first outreach session to connect Veterans with services available to them. The event will be held at the Public Safety Academy, located at 300 Oldham Road in Wayne from 8:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. In Passaic County, there are 14,678 registered Veterans.

“Protecting our servicemen and women is paramount. Not only as an elected official but as a citizen, it’s our responsibility to ensure our Veterans are provided with the vital services they need when they return home,” said Freeholder Director Sandi Lazzara. “While there are services available through the government and community organizations, one of our biggest hurdles is addressing the stigma of PTSD and mental health issues which deter Veterans in need from seeking help.”

According to a study from the VA, 20 Veterans commit suicide on a daily basis. Of those 20, only six sought mental health assistance from the VA. In addition, 65% of all Veterans who commit suicide are 50 years old or more, and while women make up only 15% of the armed forces, their suicide rate is 250% higher than men. Overall, Veteran suicide has increased 31% from 2001 to 2014.  

“Outreach and communication are vital components of our initiatives to assist our Veterans,” said Freeholder Assad Akhter. “Veterans suffering from PTSD or other mental health issues tend to isolate themselves and attempt to fix these issues on their own. Many times when we are made aware of an at-risk Veteran, it is because their spouse or another family member reaches out on their behalf. This program focuses on individual Veterans as well as the community as a whole.” 

Passaic County has a Division of Veterans Affairs located at 401 Grand Street in Paterson. The Board of Chosen Freeholders encourages any Veteran in need or people who know a Veteran in need, to reach out and call 973-569-4090. Anyone wishing to register for the Veteran’s Outreach event can do so by visiting https://goo.gl/wEquzb.