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Supporting our troops

The University of Michigan is proud to be involved in the effort to address the growing mental health needs of our nation’s returning war veterans. In 2008, the University of Michigan Depression Center/Department of Psychiatry was selected as a national core center for “Welcome Back Veterans,” a major initiative to increase public awareness of and support for programs that address the needs of returning soldiers and their families. This national project was created by Michigan alumnus and New York Mets Chairman and CEO Fred Wilpon, and is funded through a larger partnership between Major League Baseball (MLB) Charities, the McCormick Foundation, and the Entertainment Industry Foundation.

A high percentage of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan return with “invisible brain injuries” including sleep disturbances, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, substance abuse, and traumatic brain injury (TBI), placing them at growing risk for suicide.

These veterans, their spouses and their children struggle with the changing dynamics that accompany separation and re-entry into civilian life. The stigma about asking for help, and limited access to support and resources, prevent many military veterans and families from seeking and receiving the care they need.

With a generous gift from the McCormick Foundation, the Depression Center, working closely with the Michigan Army National Guard, developed two unique and replicable programs for veterans and their spouses under the WBV umbrella. “Buddy to Buddy” is a peer-to-peer program that matches veterans in need with fellow veterans who have been trained to provide support with readjustment issues and to help link these individuals to helpful resources.

A program for the entire family, “Welcome Back Parenting” has been designed to help spouses address difficult issues relating to partner relationships, parenting, and the different stages of child and family development.

Read more stories of impact.