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Letter: Groups merge to help veterans

With veteran suicides on the rise, and the need for improved access to mental health care making headlines for very different reasons, the article "The war after the war" [News, March 17] is very timely.

The number of people affected by mental health concerns during a lifetime is about 1 in 4, and that is among the general population. You add military service to that, and the grueling experiences that lay on the shoulders of military personnel and veterans, and the ratio must certainly be higher.

Recently, the Mental Health Association in Suffolk, Suffolk County United Veterans and Clubhouse of Suffolk have merged, in part because we recognize that the needs of these groups often overlap. Together, these organizations are forming an advisory board to talk about what is needed to help those on Long Island.

There are still policy issues, coverage shortfalls for substance abuse care and issues with program accessibility that prevent veterans from getting the timely help they need.

Kristie Golden, Smithtown

Editor's note: The writer is the board president of the Mental Health Association in Suffolk County.