Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation Awards $2.12 Million in Grants to Help Returning Soldiers Heal Emotional Wounds of War

Mental Health & Well-Being initiative partners with Suicide Prevention International, MDRC, Mental Health Association in New York State, Massachusetts General Hospital and The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Soldiers returning home from war carry more than duffle bags and dog tags when their tour of duty ends. Studies show that nearly one in five men and women deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2004 suffers from severe depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. Another 19 percent have traumatic brain injuries. Suicide rates among United States military personnel are at an all-time high and threaten to rise since soldiers with brain injuries are three to four times more likely to commit suicide. Yet only half of all service personnel affected by serious mental illness seek treatment.

Recognizing the enormous challenges these men and women and their families face, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation today awarded grants to five community-based programs that help returning soldiers heal the emotional wounds of war.

Like its other global initiatives to reduce health disparities and improve health outcomes, the Foundation’s Mental Health & Well-Being initiative leverages public and private sector partners in the community and outside the clinic to increase disease awareness, educate patients about effective self-management of their disease, reduce stigma, and provide emotional support.

“War has both short-term and long-term consequences that can influence the emotional and physical health of returning veterans and their family members for many years to come, but the mental health resources available to soldiers and their families are disconnected and underutilized for a number of reasons,” says John Damonti, president, Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation and vice president, Corporate Philanthropy, Bristol-Myers Squibb.

“The military is trying to address these issues but does not have enough resources and also cannot reach everyone in need of help, especially the National Guard and Reservists. Community leaders tell us that a clear system or approach geared to the unique issues facing Iraq and Afghanistan veterans needs to be developed in order to focus community and agency efforts, and to build the military-friendly communities they so desperately want to build.”

The five partners awarded grants today are:

  • Suicide Prevention International, which will receive $672,650 over two years to improve the mental health and life functioning of veterans at risk for suicide by implementing and evaluating a Family Psychoeducation (FPE) program at the Michael DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston, Texas. FPE is an evidence-based approach to recovery that involves a sustained collaboration between the person suffering from mental illness, his or her family and the trained clinician who works with them. FPE has been demonstrated to improve the results of all other treatments with which it has been coupled for patients with schizophrenia, depression, bipolar illness and post-traumatic stress disorder but has never been evaluated among veterans at increased risk for suicide.
  • Mental Health Association in New York State (MHANYS), which will receive $596,454 over two years to design a pilot program called the Resiliency and Recovery Initiative to address the mental health needs of families of deployed military, veterans and their families served by MHANYS in Jefferson County and Nassau County, N.Y. The program will provide soldiers and their families a wide variety of evidence-based tools and best practices to support the skills necessary to ensure their resiliency during a deployment and after the soldier returns home. Jefferson County’s Fort Drum is the home base for many National Guard and Reserve troops deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, and Nassau County on Long Island has one of the largest veteran populations in the state.
  • MDRC, which will receive $400,000 over two years to increase community reintegration and employment for veterans with disabilities by testing and evaluating a new tool to improve health and employment outcomes. MDRC will test a behavioral intervention called the Progressive Goal Attainment Program (PGAP) at two Veterans Affairs (VA) centers. PGAP is a structured 10-week intervention that helps disabled veterans eliminate attitudinal barriers, which studies suggest can have at least as large an impact on a disabled veteran’s ability to return to work as their physical or mental conditions. Services are delivered by trained staff with a background in social work, vocational services or physical and occupational therapy. The PGAP demonstration project in the VA setting is being jointly supported by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation and The Boeing Company.
  • Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, which will receive $344,112 to support its Home Base program in partnership with the Red Sox Foundation. The Home Base Family Support Program will partner with school nurses and guidance counselors to develop a comprehensive toolkit that helps the school-based support team address the special needs of the children and spouses of military service personnel. Once validated, the toolkit will be made available to school nurses and guidance counselors across the country. Over the past decade more than 2 million children have experienced a parent being deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan and nearly a quarter-million have lived through two or more deployments. Since Massachusetts has few active duty military bases, family members of military personnel deployed from the region are often isolated because they do not live near a military community.
  • The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill will receive $109,275 over two years to support employee assistance staff training for its Citizen Soldier Support Program (CSSP). Working with the North Carolina Chapter of the Employee Assistance Professional Association, CSSP will develop a free online course to train employee assistance program (EAP) professionals at local employers to address the needs of veterans and their families within the workplace. Behavioral health problems such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse that are triggered by military deployments can cause problems for soldiers returning to civilian employment. The training program will provide EAP professionals with tools and resources to help soldiers address emotional and behavioral issues that can affect their job performance and family relationships.

In addition to these partners, the Foundation is working with a variety of other private and public partners, including Give an Hour, the American Psychiatric Foundation and Wal-Mart Foundation on a “Community Blueprint” demonstration project in Norfolk, Virginia, and Fayetteville, North Carolina, that will test effective approaches of community outreach, education and care for returning military service members and their families, including National Guard and Reservists.

“We believe there is much that can be done through strong, community partnerships to help soldiers who are returning home from war and their families,” says Catharine Grimes, director, Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. “Our projects serve as powerful examples of how public-private partnerships can drive much-needed innovations in the nature and quality of care and support available to patients who are managing their illness in their homes and communities.”

About the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation

The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation is an independent 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose mission is to reduce health disparities and improve health outcomes around the world for patients disproportionately affected by serious disease. You can learn more about the Foundation at or follow us on Twitter at


Bristol-Myers Squibb
Frederick J. Egenolf, 609-252-4875
[email protected]

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