Non-profit organization helps combat logistical difficulties for Falmouth-area veterans to receive mental health care
(Don Lincoln, Town of Falmouth Veterans Agent, and Tom Couhig, FHR Veterans Initiative Coordinator, stand beside the 12-passenger van used to transport local-area veterans to medical appointments)
Falmouth, MA – February 6, 2017 – Statistics show that 20% of American military veterans who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from major depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. Of this population, over 19% have experienced a traumatic brain injury. These particular mental health challenges have an immense impact on the demand for mental health services for veterans.
Veteran mental health programming is a crucial resource to provide veterans with the services they need when returning from combat. A study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration discloses that only 50% of returning veterans who need mental health treatment will receive these services.
Active duty service military and veterans both face obstacles to receiving care. These barriers include a lack of understanding or awareness about mental health challenges and treatment, as well as logistical difficulties, such as long and inconvenient travel distances in order to receive this type of care.
Sadly, data also indicates veterans who miss medical appointments exhibit higher rates of depression, poor healthcare access, issues with socialization, and suicide.
In order to combat the significant hardships that many veterans face, Fellowship Health Resources, Inc. (FHR), a nonprofit behavioral healthcare organization with programs across eight states, has launched its Veterans Transportation Initiative.
“The need is great, and this is exactly why FHR is providing transportation to veterans in the area,” explained Thomas Couhig, FHR Veterans Initiative Coordinator. “These veterans were there for us, and now it is important that we are here for them.”
This program will provide round-trip transportation for Falmouth-area veterans to a range of medical appointments at regional hospitals and clinics, including the Providence VA Medical Center, VA at Eagle Square Providence/Benefits Center, New Bedford Audiology Clinic, the Bedford VA, and the Brockton VA.
Round-trip, door-to-door fare ranges from $38 to $48. Disabled veterans can be reimbursed through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Transportation Program. Passengers may pay through check, credit card, or money order.
For one elderly Korean War veteran living in Falmouth, this program has already made a positive difference. While this individual still drives, he is uncomfortable attempting a long-distance commute to the Providence VA, 140 miles round-trip from his residence. Not wanting to cancel an important medical appointment, the veteran’s son had planned to make this trip frequently, although it posed a significant burden.
After learning about FHR’s Veterans Transportation, the family was relieved.
This father and son pair is not alone with this issue. In fact, there are 23,000 veterans living on Cape Cod and the islands, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
“FHR’s mission is to provide services to improve the quality of life for individuals in recovery,” said Debra M. Paul, FHR President & CEO. “This program, which connects veterans with the transportation necessary to seek care, is a prime example of fulfilling our mission and improving the quality of life in our community.”
To contact FHR’s Veterans Transportation Initiative Program or to schedule a ride, contact Tom Couhig at 774-313-0634 and include “Vets” in your message. Learn more about the programs and community initiatives of FHR by visiting www.fhr.net.
A special thank you to all of the organizations who have assisted FHR with this initiative, including: Falmouth Veterans' Services Department, Falmouth Veterans’ Council, Disabled American Veterans Falmouth Memorial Chapter 81, Falmouth Military Support Group, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion, Amvets Post 70, the Elks Lodge 2380, and the Providence VA Medical Center Veterans Transportation Program.
About Fellowship Health Resources, Inc.
FHR (Fellowship Health Resources, Inc.) fosters hope and recovery. We provide behavioral health services to improve the quality of life for individuals living with mental illness and addictions. FHR serves over 7,000 individuals through a person-centered approach across 8 states – Delaware, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia.
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