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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

NYS Group Calls for More Funding to Veterans' Program

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Friday, April 7, 2023   

A group of New York state social workers wants more funding for a veterans' mental-health program.

The Veterans Mental Health Training Initiative educates community providers about veteran-specific issues and cultural competency for working with them. The group seeks $100,000 to fund a position to link the Joseph P. Dwyer Veterans Peer Support Project with the clinicians in the initiative.

Amelia Lochner-Malavé, director of operations and development at the National Association of Social Workers New York Chapter, said it's important to learn how to help providers.

"So, this is going to incorporate a few things," she said, "creating an evaluation of clinicians on intake, seeing where they are in terms of their knowledge and cultural competency with veterans' issues."

She said the person in this role would also create a baseline curriculum for clinicians working with veterans, but acknowledged not everyone sees the value of mental-health services if they haven't had experience with them. The state of New York already has invested several million dollars to expand the Veterans Peer Support Project statewide.

While clinicians are trained to address numerous mental-health issues, Lochner-Malavé noted that this program goes beyond that. Particularly, she said, she thinks improving cultural competency can increase the trust a veteran might have for a clinician.

"You cannot meet the needs of that person if they're truly speaking almost like a different language, which is true, you know - the veterans have their own culture and their own language," she said. "And you need to be able to respect and be aware of that before you can address any of these other issues."

She said it's especially important to show humility and a deeper understanding when covering tough topics such as suicide prevention. A 2022 New York Health Foundation report found the rate of suicides among New York veterans has stabilized in recent years, but there are signs the progress is fragile.

Disclosure: NASW New York State Chapter contributes to our fund for reporting on Environmental Justice, Livable Wages/Working Families, Mental Health, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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