My name is Mike Jones. I am a NAMI New Jersey Board member and the Veterans Committee chair. My family, like very many others, lives with mental illness. When I finally discovered NAMI, I took the Family-to-Family Education course, and quickly went on to become a Family-to-Family teacher myself. I now actively participate in local, state, and national level efforts to educate, improve services, and reduce stigma, not only for my family, but also for fellow veterans, military, and their families.
NAMI New Jersey and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has teamed to provide the NAMI Family-to-Family Education Program for families of veterans as a means to support recovery. In twelve two-hour sessions family caregivers receive information about mental illnesses, treatment, medications and recovery. We also learn self-care and communication skills, problem solving and advocacy strategies. Two VA studies found that Family-to-Family enhanced family members’ empowerment and reduced their subjective burden of mental illnesses. The results could also have implications for improving patient outcomes (e.g., providing a less tense and stimulating family environment).
I ask you to help us in reaching out to families of military/veterans, inform them of the availability of NAMI Family-to-Family education and other programs, and offering them our support when they need it. If you are unable or have no contact with military/veteran families, please help by contributing monetarily so that NAMI can improve and increase our outreach and education efforts in the coming year. Thank you.