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Today at State House in Boston -- Hidden Wounds of War Report Inspires Advocates to Support "Train Vets to Treat Vets" Program

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 General News J E 4
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Local Marines to Speak of Need and their Personal Experiences at May 11 Public Briefing at State House

BOSTON, May 11, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "The military offers us the opportunity to serve a greater purpose.  As a veteran, now my service is the clinical work I do with vets. It's the dismantling of mental health stigma that naturally occurs when a returning Veteran receives treatment from one of their own," says Greg Matos of Waltham, a clinical psychology doctoral candidate and a former Marine, who will testify at a statehouse briefing on Wednesday, May 11, 2011, to support a program called "Train Vets to Treat Vets." The program, inspired by a study conducted by a special state commission and developed as a proposal at the request of the Massachusetts legislature, is now under consideration in the state Senate.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20101216/MM18901LOGO )  

The briefing, which is open to the public, will be hosted by Representative James E. Vallee, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Veterans' and Federal Affairs, and will take place at 2 pm in room 437 at the State House in Boston.

Matos will be one of several veterans advocating for "Train Vets to Treat Vets," a proposed partnership between the Department of Veterans Services and the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology (MSPP).  As partners, the two organizations would join forces to identify veterans in greatest need of mental health care in the state and place and supervise graduate interns (also veterans) from MSPP in veterans outreach services centers. The interns would then be supervised by both the staff of the centers and the faculty of MSPP.

"The hope is that this partnership will not only help provide much needed culturally sensitive services to veterans traumatized by their combat experience, but will also offer veterans who are dedicated to helping fellow service men and women, the skills and credentials necessary to make it a viable career and life's work," says Dr. Nicholas Covino, President of MSPP, who will speak at the briefing about how the partners propose to work together.

The military has its own culture, according to Matos, and to treat a veteran, it is important to understand how deeply that culture impacts their lives and their ability to heal.  Matos is currently completing his doctorate in clinical psychology at MSPP and is returning to active duty as a Navy Psychologist after graduation.  Matos was a Marine sergeant and the recipient of the Bronze Star with Combat Valor and the State Department's Award for Heroism.

Joining Matos will be Marine Corps Colonel James "Jimmy" Flynn of Medford.  Flynn, a twice-wounded veteran, will share his personal story of the impact military service can have and his belief in the importance of veterans working therapeutically with other veterans.  Flynn received the Purple Heart and the Navy Achievement Medal Combat Action Ribbon for his service.  

The concept for the "Train Vets to Treat Vets" program evolved from evidence gathered and reported on by the Commonwealth's Special Commission to Study and Investigate the Hidden Wounds of War on Massachusetts Service Members.  Published January 5, 2009, the report outlined a continuum of pressing and devastating issues for returning veterans,  including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and the associated problems of substance abuse, feelings of hopelessness, lack of employment, relationship problems and, in the most severe situations, suicide.  Studies show that more than a third of our returning service men and women are experiencing such health challenges.

In response to the findings of the Commission, in June 2010, the Massachusetts General Court requested an analysis of what it would take to create a program of behavioral health career development for returning veterans in conjunction with the MSPP, a graduate school already dedicated to the concept of training veterans to treat other veterans as a participant in the federal Yellow Ribbon Scholarship program. The Yellow Ribbon Program offers academic scholarships to veterans and other prospective psychologists who wish to devote their careers to caring for the mental health needs of servicemen and women.

Several members of the General Court also serve in the military and are supportive of this program. They include Senator Michael Rush, D-Boston, a Lieutenant in the United States Navy and Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs, who is currently serving in Iraq. Representative James Vallee, D-Franklin, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs, is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Massachusetts Army National Guard. And, Representative Jerald Parisella, D-Beverly, a veteran of the Army Reserves, is serving in Afghanistan. Representative Harold P. Naughton, D-Clinton, a Captain in the U.S. Army Reserves, served in Iraq and recently received the Combat Action Badge.  

"Senator Rush fully supports this unique outreach program that will assist veterans with the hidden costs of active service," said John Regan, Chief of Staff to Senator Mike Rush.  "It is entrusted on us to do all we can to help treat any returning veteran who suffers from behavioral health issues resulting from combat service."

About MSPPFounded in 1974, MSPP has created and offered a unique approach to doctoral training for psychologists focusing on the immediate integration of clinical experience with academic studies. The school's mission is to bring benefits of psychological training to other areas of American society, including schools, the workplace and the courts. For more information, go to www.mspp.edu.

SOURCE Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology

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