Ocean County Press Release

CITING ALARMING federal statistics that recently discharged veterans are three times more likely to commit suicide than other veterans, Freeholder Director Gerry P. Little encouraged local men and women transitioning into civilian life to take advantage of a newly expanded federal program.

President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order that requires the Department of Veterans Affairs to implement a joint action plan that increases counseling and other mental health programs for new veterans.

"Ocean County is home to more veterans than any other county in the state," Little said. "From World War II to today's ongoing War on Terror, our veterans have sacrificed to keep our families safe. I urge any veteran, but especially our new veterans, to seek out the help they need."

Little said federal studies have shown that veterans who are 3 to 12 months out of military service are the most vulnerable.

"Military service isn't easy, and neither is the transition back to civilian life," Little said. "Hopefully this new effort will make the change easier for our vets and their families."

Freeholder Deputy Director John C. Bartlett Jr. said the stigma of veterans suffering from mental health issues that was common during prior centuries is long gone.

"Everyone recognizes the mental stress of wearing the uniform, especially in a combat zone," Bartlett said. "In my time as a freeholder I've had the pleasure of meeting many veterans from World War I up to today's young men and women who have volunteered to serve their nation. To all of our veterans I say, if you need help please ask for it."

Little said now that Trump has issued his executive order, it is critical that the VA devote the resources to this growing problem.

Little said local veterans can also contact the Ocean County Veterans Service Bureau for assistance.

Working with the VA and local nonprofit agencies, our Veterans Service Bureau has helped thousands of veterans with a variety of issues, from health services, to job placement and assistance in filing VA claims, Little said.

"We're here to help," said Little, who is also liaison to the bureau. "We're only a phone call away."

The Veterans Service Bureau can be reached at 732-929-2096.

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