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  • Saturday, July 16, 2022

    NY Legion Announces $1.5 Million Fund to Combat Vet Suicide, Homelessness

    First 2 Grants Fund PTSD Treatment, Aid Housing for Women with Children

    Check presentation before news media

    2021-2022 Department Commander Frank LaMarsh presents check for $100,000 to Dr. Frank Bourke and Dr. Loree Sutton (retired Army brigadier general) from the Research and Recognition Project. The presentation took place Friday, July 15, during The American Legion Department of New York’s 104th Convention at the Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton.

    The American Legion in New York State has established a $1.5 million fund to address veteran suicide and homelessness.

    Request for Proposal

    RFP for suicide and homelessness prevention

    In unveiling the fund July 15 during the Legion’s state convention in Binghamton, American Legion Department of New York Commander Frank LaMarsh also announced the fund’s first two grant awards:

    • $100,000 to fund a pilot project to expand and measure the RTM ProtocolTM treatment for veterans suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD).

    • $34,450 to outfit a home for homeless women veterans with children.

    Michelle Viola Straight addresses convention

    Michelle Viola-Straight addresses the NY American Legion Convention at the Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton Friday (July 15) after accepting a check for $34,450 on behalf of the Veterans & Community Housing Coalition. She is director of community relations for VCHC.

    “Starting today,” he said, “The American Legion Department of New York is using this fund to provide grants to organizations and projects that make a difference in the lives of our veterans still suffering from what happened to them while serving their country. Our inaugural grants address the startling statistic that 22 veterans are taking their own lives every day, and that women veterans with children are the most vulnerable segment of our veteran homeless population.”

    The $100,000 grant is going to the Research and Recognition Project, a Corning-based non-profit founded by Dr. Frank Bourke, PhD. In clinical trials, the project’s RTM ProtocolTM (Reconsolidation of Traumatic Memories ProtocolTM) has eliminated PTS symptoms over 90 percent of the time in less than five hours, using no drugs, LaMarsh noted.

    Under the one-year American Legion pilot program, the project will train 30 clinicians across New York who will treat 400 veterans using the RTM ProtocolTM  and will measure the remission of the PTS diagnosis and symptoms for a period of a year. The pilot program is the first step in plans to ramp up treatment to 3,000 veterans per year, over three years, for a full clinical study of measuring PTS remission in 9,000 vets.

    The second grant of $34,450 goes to the Veterans & Community Housing Coalition to furnish Foreverly House, a two-family home for homeless veteran moms and their children. It will be the first such facility in the seven-county region that the Ballston Spa-based coalition serves (Saratoga, Warren, Washington, Fulton, Montgomery, Schoharie and Schenectady counties).

    LaMarsh noted: “Veteran moms returning from service to our country often forego the support services they need to avoid giving up custody of their children. Many of these women are victims of military sexual trauma. Without proper support, these women often self-medicate with alcohol or drugs to deal with PTSD, anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders. In spite of these challenges, they forego treatment so that they will not be separated from their children. For many of these children, mom is the only caregiver they have ever known. And those experiencing homelessness or the threat of homelessness are more likely to think about or attempt suicide.”

    Foreverly House will provide stable housing, access to health care, mental health treatment and support services to help these veterans overcome the issues that lead to homelessness and/or suicide, he said.