.  Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation Awards $3.28 Million in Grants to Support

Mental Health Needs of U.S. Military Service Members Returning from

Afghanistan and Iraq


Soldiers returning from active duty in Afghanistan and Iraq can face a range

of mental health issues that may affect their quality of life and their

families, including severe depression, post-traumatic stress (PTSD) and

substance abuse. They also face a rising suicide rate. However, fewer than

half of the 2 million military personnel who served in those countries seek

treatment for their serious mental illness.


Since it was launched in 2011, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation’s Mental

Health & Well-Being initiative has recognized the importance of supporting

efforts that address the mental health needs of United States military

service personnel returning from active duty and their families. This year,

the Foundation is awarding 10 grants totaling $3.28 million to fund

innovative programs that will establish sustainable community-based support

systems for veterans and their families.


“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.


“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 adds. “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



The Foundation’s 2013 Mental Health and Well-Being grant recipients are:


   — New York Legal Assistance Group and Connecticut Veterans Legal Clinic

      will receive two-year grants of $330,700 and $365,980, respectively,


      partner with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to study the

      Medical-Legal Partnership (MLP) model in VA settings. This study, the

      first of its kind, will examine how civil legal services impact mental


      health and quality of life outcomes for veterans treated in VA mental

      health and homeless programs. MLPs are designed to help patients


      legal problems that may negatively impact their health. According to

      annual needs surveys of homeless VA service providers, homeless


      may be particularly in need of legal assistance. VA researchers

      participating in the partnership will evaluate the integration of free


      legal assistance and VA health care as it relates to veterans’ mental

      health and quality of life. The study will be conducted at two VA

      settings in New York and two in Connecticut.


   — Points of Light, National Council for Behavioral Health and


      General Hospital will each receive two-year grants totaling $967,790


      partner with Outside the Wire on its Theater of War performances to

      military and civilian audiences in 25 U.S. cities. Outside the Wire is


      social impact company that uses theater to address a number of


      public health issues, including the psychological impact of serving in


      war on veterans and their families. Theater of War has been hailed as


      revolutionary public health campaign that uses performances of ancient


      Greek plays as a catalyst for town hall discussions about the physical


      and mental wounds of war. The performance events will increase the

      visibility of service members and their families and engage civilians


      discussions about the lasting impact of war and a community’s civic

      responsibility to help veterans and their families reintegrate and


      A smartphone app will be developed to evaluate the program and to


      links to resources for service members and their families.


   — Minnesota Veterans Medical Research and Education Foundation will


      a two-year, $601,597 grant for a new program called Building Spiritual


      Strength that will use pastoral counselors to address the issues of


      injury — killing or wounding others — among combat trauma survivors.


      Research shows that soldiers and combat veterans are more likely to


      spiritual support from chaplains than from traditional mental health

      providers and that moral injury causes veterans more distress than

      threats to their own lives or physical well-being. The project will be


      centered in the Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul area in Minnesota and


      include 150 veterans who have PTSD. The project will develop support


      provide education within the faith-based community and provide


      to veterans who will not access conventional mental health care.


   — Rush University Medical Center Department of Behavioral Sciences will

      receive a one-year, $175,000 grant to complete an efficacy trial of


      mental health services provided by Vets Prevail and recruit and enroll


      more than 6,200 additional veterans into the program, which received

      funding from the Foundation last year. Vets Prevail is an innovative

      online behavioral health option for veterans who are reluctant to seek


      care in traditional care settings and who are at risk of falling


      the cracks. The program is the result of collaboration among Prevail

      Health Solutions, Rush University Medical Center and the Veterans


      Administration. Vets Prevail intends to become integrated within the


      suite of other mental health offerings.


   — Boston University School of Public Health will receive a two-year,


      million grant to transform a pilot version of a self-directed,


      intervention that focuses on self-management to control alcohol

      consumption as a critical approach to managing PTSD into a


      version. VetChange is the first national program of its kind. It helps


      soldiers returning from combat reduce unhealthy drinking and PTSD

      symptoms by allowing users to assess and measure progress of their own


      drinking and PTSD symptoms; develop a personalized coping plan to deal


      with alcohol triggers; review and receive tailored support messages


      in partner communities, get additional help from trained peer


      and professional counselors.


   — National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) received a three-year


      grant of $750,000 to adapt the evidence-based NAMI Family-to-Family

      Education Program to the unique needs of families of active duty


      personnel and veterans. “NAMI Homefront” will provide six free


      of peer-led instruction on coping with mental illness and issues


      to military and veteran communities, such as post-deployment and

      post-discharge transitions. Instructors are trained family members and


      the program will offer an option for on-line attendance. NAMI


      is also being funded by the Cigna Foundation, Janssen Research and

      Development, Universal Health Services and the Harry and Jeanette

      Weinberg Foundation.


   — Carter Center received $95,118 to conduct the Mental Health &


      Grantees Summit in Atlanta, Georgia, in June 2013. The Summit convened


      the grantees together with other leading experts in the field to share


      learnings and lessons learned. About the Bristol-Myers Squibb



The mission of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation is to promote health

equity and improve the health outcomes of populations disproportionately

affected by serious diseases and health conditions. The Foundation’s Mental

Health & Well-Being initiative in the U.S. focuses funding on addressing the

mental health and reintegration needs of returning service members, veterans

and their families. For more information about the Bristol-Myers Squibb

Foundation, please visit