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Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation funds veteran programs

NEW YORK, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation is giving $3.28 million in grants to support the mental health needs of troops who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The 10 grants come under its Mental Health & Well-Being initiative, which was launched in 2011.

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"With the conflict in Iraq now over and the conflict in Afghanistan winding down, the stakes could not be higher for service members, veterans and their families returning to garrison and civilian life," says John Damonti, president, Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. "We know the need for integrated community support will continue to escalate as more troops return home and the country continues to downsize its military.

Receiving grant monies are the New York Legal Assistance Group and Connecticut Veterans Legal Clinic, which will partner with the Department of Veterans Affairs to study how civil legal services impact mental health and quality of life outcomes for veterans treated in VA mental health and homeless programs; and Points of Light, National Council for Behavioral Health and Massachusetts General Hospital, which will partner with Outside the Wire on its Theater of War performances to military and civilian audiences in 25 U.S. cities.

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Outside the Wire is a social impact company that uses theater to address a number of pressing public health issues, including the psychological impact of serving in war on veterans and their families.

Others include the Minnesota Veterans Medical Research and Education Foundation, which is instituting a new program that will use pastoral counselors to address the issues of moral injury -- killing or wounding others -- among combat trauma survivors; Rush University Medical Center Department of Behavioral Science, which will complete an efficacy trial of the mental health services provided by Vets Prevail and recruit and enroll more than 6,200 additional veterans into the program; Boston University School of Public Health, which is to transform a pilot version of a self-directed, web-based intervention that focuses on self-management to control alcohol consumption; the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which will adapt the evidence-based NAMI Family-to-Family Education Program to the unique needs of families of active duty military personnel and veterans; and the Carter Center, which convened a summit of earlier grantees and leading experts in the field to share learnings and lessons learned.

The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation said the individual grants range from $95,000 to $105 million. Funding is for as long as two years.

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"Hundreds of thousands of veterans struggle with the challenges of re-integration -- unemployment and marital stress, as well as the invisible wounds of PTSD and traumatic brain injury," Damonti said. "The foundation's commitment to its partners will not only implement novel models of support for veterans and their families, but also provide much-needed evidence from scientific evaluations to help influence informed decisions for policy change."

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