NYS Seal





Mental health services for returning veterans


To evaluate the State's role in responding to the increasing number of returning veterans who are at high-risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health conditions.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007
10:00 AM
1st Floor Conference Room, Dulles State Office Building
317 Washington Street
Watertown, New York 13601-3782

The current United States military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan are the most sustained ground combat operations since the Vietnam era. These wars will produce a new generation of veterans at risk for the chronic mental health problems that result, in part, from exposure to the stress, adversity, and trauma of war-zone experiences. Research has shown that the frequency and intensity of exposure to combat experiences is strongly associated with the risk of chronic post-traumatic stress disorder and related impairment.

More than one third of American troops from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan have been diagnosed with some sort of mental or psychosocial disorder, according to a report from the Archives of Internal Medicine. The nature of the wars has produced unanticipated impacts on soldiers due to the ever increasing intensity of civil war, extended tours of duty, and the number of soldiers who are serving their second or third tours. According to a survey published in Marine Corps Times in April 2007 that surveyed 1320 soldiers and 447 Marines, it is clear that there is a significant mental health impact for individuals serving extended tours and those going back for a second and third tour. It was found that on a second, third or fourth deployment, twenty-seven percent screened positive for mental health issues, compared to seventeen percent of first time deployments. Twenty-two percent of those in-theater for six months or more screened positive for mental health issues, compared to fifteen percent of those who have been there fewer than six months.

Although the federal Department of Veterans Affairs provides care and treatment to servicemen and women, governmental officials, various organizations and the media have suggested that the mental health needs of returning veterans are not being adequately met. Left untreated, individuals with mental health conditions may experience other devastating ramifications, including unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness or involvement with the criminal justice system.

The hearing seeks to evaluate the State's role in addressing the needs of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who are experiencing PTSD or other mental health conditions. It will particularly look at what services are currently available for the returning soldier to Fort Drum and what role, if any New York State can play.

Please see the reverse side for a list of subjects to which witnesses may direct their testimony.

Persons wishing to present pertinent testimony to the Committee at the above hearing should complete and return the enclosed reply form as soon as possible. It is important that the reply form be fully completed and returned so that persons may be notified in the event of emergency postponement or cancellation.

Oral testimony will be limited to 10 minutes duration. In preparing the order of witnesses, the Committee will attempt to accommodate individual requests to speak at particular times in order to accommodate special circumstances. These requests should be made on the attached reply form or communicated to Committee staff as early as possible. In the absence of a request, witnesses will be scheduled in the order in which reply forms are postmarked.

Ten copies of any prepared testimony should be submitted at the hearing registration desk. The Committee would appreciate advance receipt of prepared statements.

In order to further publicize these hearings, please inform interested parties and organizations of the Committee's interest in hearing testimony from all sources.

In order to meet the needs of those who may have a disability, the Assembly, in accordance with its policy of non-discrimination on the basis of disability, as well as the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), has made its facilities and services available to all individuals with disabilities. For individuals with disabilities, accommodations will be provided, upon reasonable request, to afford such individuals access and admission to Assembly facilities and activities.

Peter M. Rivera
Member of Assembly
Chairman, Mental Health Committee

Adriano Espaillat
Member of Assembly
Chairman, Veterans' Affairs Committee


  1. Is the current system of care sufficient to meet the mental health needs of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan?

  2. What is the range of mental health problems that recent veterans are experiencing? Do accurate estimates of the nature and frequency of these problems exist?

  3. What barriers to mental health services are veterans most frequently encountering, especially those soldiers returning to the Fort Drum Base?

  4. Where are veterans most frequently receiving diagnoses and services for their mental health needs? Where do soldiers returning to Fort Drum receive diagnoses and services?

  5. Are veterans able to readily obtain access to adequate mental health services through federal entities, such as VA hospitals and Vet Centers, or through state-supported facilities?

  6. What are the estimated figures for the following:

    • Number of veterans who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan and who are currently residing in New York? Number of veterans currently receiving mental health services through federal, state and voluntary programs?

    • Number of New York State servicemen and women currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan? Number of New York State servicemen and women currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan that are stationed at Fort Drum? Number estimated to need mental health services upon return to Fort Drum?

  7. Is the State adequately supporting the mental health needs of veterans who are unable to access services through the federal system? How can the State better serve the unmet mental health needs of veterans?

  8. Is there an appropriate State strategy in place to address the long and short-term needs of veterans returning from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan?

  9. Is the increase in the number of deployments for individual soldiers causing an increase in the number of soldiers seeking mental health care services?


Persons wishing to present testimony at the public hearing on mental health services for returning veterans are requested to complete this reply form as soon as possible and mail it to:

Steven McCutcheon
Legislative Assistant
Assembly Committee on Veterans' Affairs
22nd Floor AESOB
Albany, New York 12248
Email: mccutcheons@assembly.state.ny.us
Phone: (518) 455-4355
Fax: (518) 455-7250

box I plan to attend the following public hearing on mental health services to be conducted by the Assembly Committees on Veterans' Affairs and Mental Health on Tuesday, October 9, 2007.

box I plan to make a public statement at the hearing. My statement will be limited to 10 of minutes, and I will answer any questions which may arise. I will provide 10 copies of my prepared statement.


I will address my remarks to the following subjects:

box I do not plan to attend the above hearing.

box I would like to be added to the Committee mailing list for notices and reports.

box I would like to be removed from the Committee mailing list.


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