Testimony given before the Committee on Veterans (held jointly with the Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities and Addiction) on Mental Health Services for Veterans in Response to COVID-19, and Alternative Treatments for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): 11/17/2021
Thank you to both the Committee on Veterans and the Committee on Mental Health Disability and Addiction, Chairperson Dinowitz and Chairperson Lewis for the honor and privilege of testifying before you today.
My name is Kimberly Moore, director of Care Café at Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work. Care Café is a citywide initiative that brings mental health services to vulnerable populations. Our students and faculty have pioneered a targeted model of embedding Care Café programs in local community institutions to provide mental health services tailored to specific constituencies, including vulnerable populations, Holocaust survivors, veterans immigrant populations, and school age children.
To date, we have provided these services in more than a dozen Council districts and maintained the capacity to expand on our current footprint as issues arise in your respective communities.
Veterans are inherently decentralized and therefore a hard-to-reach population, and the work of Care Café has shown that community-based mental health services, in partnership with neighborhood-based nonprofits, the VA and social organizations allows vets to seek out treatment in a more neutral environment. It meets vets where they are.
A portion of Care Café’s funding is designated for veterans services. Care Café addresses topics from a holistic perspective that intentionally unites a psychoeducational perspective with an emotionally supportive message.
Globally, interdisciplinary practitioners are charged with deeply examining the impact of COVID-19 across various populations. Well, how should New York City be treating veteran PTSD? Our response? Through providers’ collective strength and expertise, not in isolation. During the pandemic, with the strong supports and partnerships with community-based organizations and student leaders, Care Café was able to connect with the public through the delivery of virtual content, including but not limited to peer-led and facilitated trainings and support groups.
This mutual aid strategy promotes openness, reduces stigma and normalizes one’s lived experience with a goal of seeking hope and change.
Creating events rooted in the arts and sciences, such as our storytelling education Care Café hosted at the Telling Project, which evokes a process of healthy self-reflection and the value of shared personal expert knowledge. Encourage the incorporation of complementary and alternative medicine techniques, such as yoga and meditation.
Care Café organized educational events around stress management, which included education around breathwork, movement and meditation.
Furthermore, in programming, implement a consistent structure for regular outreach and engagement. For example, regular mailings of handouts and trinkets to our veterans, where available.
For many, the reliance on the regular structure of activities provided something for our members to look forward to, and for many the only supportive entity available for them to access.
In cases where veterans are isolated, Care Café worked with partner organizations to safely engage veterans through in-person community visits and reassurance calls to provide information and support to connect them to identified services.
Well, there’s much more to share. I’ll stop my share for right now.
Thank you so much.