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Mental health services for New York State Veterans


To evaluate the State's role and response to the increasing number of returning veterans who are at high-risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health conditions.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007
10:30 AM
Assembly Hearing Room 1923, 19th Floor
250 Broadway
New York, New York

The current United States military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan are the most sustained ground combat operations since the Vietnam era. Several recent reports suggest that servicemen and women returning from these operations are experiencing high rates of PTSD and other mental health problems. Several factors, including lengthy and multiple tours of duty, decreased mortality rates, and traumatic brain injuries, are believed to contribute to the growing number of returning military personnel with a mental health condition. These conditions may be present shortly upon return from combat or may develop over the course of months or years as these individuals adjust to civilian life.

Although the federal Department of Veterans Affairs provides care and treatment to servicemen and women, government officials, various organizations and the media have suggested that the mental health needs of returning veterans are not being adequately met. The high rates of PTSD and other mental health conditions among military personnel returning to New York State may exacerbate an already strained state and voluntarily operated mental health service delivery system. Left untreated, individuals with mental health conditions may experience other devastating ramifications including unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness or involvement with the criminal justice system.

This hearing seeks to evaluate the State's role and response in addressing the needs of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who are experiencing PTSD or other mental health conditions. In order to implement an appropriate short- and long-term strategy to address the mental health needs of veterans, it is critical that the State develop reliable data regarding the number of veterans currently residing in or expected to return to New York, an estimate of veterans who may need mental health services, and an accurate count of how many of these individuals may not be served through the federal network of care.

Please see below for a list of subjects to which witnesses may direct their testimony, and for a description of the bills which will be discussed at the hearing.

Persons wishing to present pertinent testimony to the Committees at the above hearing should complete and return the enclosed reply form as soon as possible. It is important that the reply form be fully completed and returned so that persons may be notified in the event of emergency postponement or cancellation.

Oral testimony will be limited to 10 minutes in duration. In preparing the order of witnesses, the Committees will attempt to accommodate individual requests to speak at particular times in view of special circumstances. These requests should be made on the attached reply form or communicated to Committees' staff as early as possible.

Ten copies of any prepared testimony should be submitted at the hearing registration desk. The Committees would appreciate advance receipt of prepared statements.

In order to further publicize these hearings, please inform interested parties and organizations of the Committees' interest in hearing testimony from all sources.

In order to meet the needs of those who may have a disability, the Assembly, in accordance with its policy of non-discrimination on the basis of disability, as well as the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), has made its facilities and services available to all individuals with disabilities. For individuals with disabilities, accommodations will be provided, upon reasonable request, to afford such individuals access and admission to Assembly facilities and activities.

Peter M. Rivera
Member of Assembly
Committee on Mental Health,
Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities

Felix W. Ortiz
Member of Assembly
Committee on Veterans' Affairs


  1. Is the current system of care in place sufficient to meet the mental health needs of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan?

  2. What is the range of mental health problems that recent veterans are experiencing? Do accurate estimates of the nature and frequency of these problems exist?

  3. What barriers to mental health services are veterans most frequently encountering?

  4. Where are veterans most frequently receiving diagnoses and services for their mental health needs?

  5. Are veterans able to readily obtain access to mental health services through federal entities, such as VA hospitals and Vet Centers, or through state-supported facilities?

  6. What are the estimated figures for the following:

    • Number of veterans who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan who are currently residing in New York? Number currently receiving mental health services through federal, state and voluntary programs?

    • Number of New York State servicemen and women currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan? Number estimated to need mental health services upon return to the State?

  7. Is the State adequately supporting the mental health needs of veterans who are unable to access services through the federal system? How can the State better serve the unmet mental health needs of veterans?

  8. Is there an appropriate State strategy in place to address the long- and short-term needs of veterans returning from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan?


Persons wishing to present testimony at the public hearing on mental health services for New York State Veterans are requested to complete this reply form as soon as possible and mail it to:

Steven McCutcheon
Committee Assistant
Assembly Committee on Veterans' Affairs
22nd Floor-AESOB
80 S. Swan Street
Albany, New York 12248

Email: mccutcheons@assembly.state.ny.us
Phone: (518) 455-4355
Fax: (518) 455-7250

box I plan to attend the following public hearing on mental health services for New York State Veterans to be conducted by the Assembly Committees on Mental Health and Veterans' Affairs on Wednesday, May 23, 2007.

box I plan to make a public statement at the hearing. My statement will be limited to 10 minutes, and I will answer any questions which may arise. I will provide 10 copies of my prepared statement.


I will address my remarks to the following subjects:

box I do not plan to attend the above hearing.

box I would like to be added to the Committee mailing list for notices and reports.

box I would like to be removed from the Committee mailing list.


I will require assistance and/or handicapped accessibility information. Please specify the type of assistance required:








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