Deploy an Army of Mental Health Professionals to Serve our Veterans

By: Michele Nealon-Woods, Huffington Post Do you know what the leading cause of death is in the U.S. Army? Common sense would suggest injuries or accidents during combat. Not so: It’s actually suicide. More soldiers are dying from suicide than anything else, and this past July was the deadliest of all — 38 suicides among active duty and reserve soldiers since the Army began keeping track. Approximately 18 veterans and one active duty service member take their own lives every day. Many face post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse and major depression in addition to unemployment, homelessness, interpersonal violence and much more. Yet when they come home, care is not readily available. They deal with cuts to mental health programs, decreased availability of specialty care for PTSD and related mental illnesses and limited insurance coverage. Far from the warm reception and welcome parade they deserve or envision. This crisis has reached such staggering proportions that President Obama signed an executive order in August to hire more mental health specialists to serve our returning vets and ensure they get immediate help. This is a start, but not nearly enough. We need an army of mental health professionals deployed to serve active duty service members, veterans, their families and even their immediate communities. Professionals must specialize in the specific climate of the military and the population so they apply treatments that work. We must do more and sooner, or the numbers we’re seeing will quadruple and impact us all. Everyone knows an active service member or veteran — they are relatives, neighbors and colleagues. At The Chicago School of Professional Psychology (TCSPP), they are our graduate students, advancing their education to serve their community in yet more ways. In fact, at TCSPP, we do all we can to address the issue. This year we were listed among the top 15 percent of schools nationwide designated as a military-friendly school delivering a superior experience for military students. We offer several programs, Yellow-Ribbon scholarships to veteran students, and practicum sites with partners nationwide where graduate students gain real-world understanding and hands-on experience to help veterans on their path to healing. We’re also developing a National Center for Veteran and Military Psychology and a Certificate of Military Psychology across campuses in Chicago, Southern California and Washington, D.C. to respond to the dire need for more mental health specialists who can help military populations. As we honor our military men and women on Veterans Day, let’s remember all the sacrifices they’ve made. Not just the physical scars they bring home, but the traumas that are less visible but can last much longer. They are courageous not just for fighting on our behalf in dangerous places, but for seeking the help they rightly deserve. Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Dear Friends and Clients,

In furtherance of our firm’s culture of commitment to always act with compassion, concern and commitment to our clients, community and colleagues, we have been taking precautions to ensure that we are still fulfilling our ethical and moral obligations while prioritizing health, wellness and safety of all we can.

As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced changes to many lives and businesses in our communities, and around the world. We, much like our neighbors and friends, have been taking precautions to ensure that we are still fulfilling our ethical and moral obligation to our clients, while also prioritizing the health, wellness and safety of our employees.

Until further notice, our offices will be closed to the public to encourage social distancing and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Our team is still hard at work, many from home, and you may still call, email, live chat or video conference us if you or a loved one is seeking legal assistance. As the first law firm to offer our clients secure online access to their case file more than a decade ago, we have always been believers in using technology to make life easier and information more accessible. In these present times it has been a smooth transition for us to continue to offer our clients the same seamless and thorough service that you deserve and are accustomed to.

This pandemic is unlike anything any of us have faced in our lifetimes, and while we can continue to emotionally support one another through it all, staying home and keeping your distance is vital to the health and wellness of our communities. It does not feel good to break routines, cancel events and retreat from our normal, day-to-day socializing, but let us remember that, in times of strife, prior generations were asked to go to war and we are simply being asked to stay home. Your isolation equals more lives saved, and more time for medical providers to prepare for the treatment of patients battling COVID-19.

When the dust settles, we will join together with a greater appreciation for our lives, local businesses, loved ones and health. Until then, we will continue to offer guidance from a safe distance.

Very truly yours,

Andrew G. Finkelstein and the staff of Finkelstein & Partners, LLP