Gillibrand invites defense official to LI facility

Senator Gillibrand speaks about the need for mental

Senator Gillibrand speaks about the need for mental health care for returning veterans. (June 7, 2013) (Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan)

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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Friday invited a top federal official to visit a Bay Shore behavioral health center for military veterans and their families, which she called a potential model for the nation.

"I respectfully urge you, or the appropriate member of the [Department of] Defense Suicide Prevention Office to visit the center, as this innovative public-private partnership is making a difference in hundreds of lives while creating a more accessible and comprehensive health care model for Veteran families which cannot go unnoticed," Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said in her invitation to Jacqueline Garrick, the office's acting director.

Gillibrand spokeswoman Angie Hu later said "the senator looks forward to her response." Garrick did not immediately respond to Newsday.

Gillibrand toured the Mildred and Frank Feinberg Division of the Unified Behavioral Health Center for Military Veterans and Their Families on Friday. The center offers care to veterans and their families through a collaboration between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the North Shore-LIJ Health System.

"As the New York area's largest health care provider, North Shore-LIJ recognizes its obligation to get military families the help they need for the psychological battles that they continue to fight," said Michael Dowling, North Shore-LIJ's chief executive.

Nassau and Suffolk counties have the nation's 10th-largest veteran population, about 150,000.

The center uses both VA and North Shore-LIJ professionals to provide treatment of issues common to military families, such as long-term exposure to stressful or traumatic events, fear for the safety of loved ones, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, family conflicts and children's behavioral problems.

This program is a first-of-its-kind public-private collaboration to evaluate and treat military personnel and their family members. It has treated about 500 patients since it opened in December.

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