April 4, 2007
Contact: Kaylyn Kendall Dines
Phone: (973) 972-3000
One Veteran Helps Returning Vets Re-adjust to Civilian Life
HOLMDEL — Charles “Chuck” Arnold joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1965 and he served in two combat tours, one in Cuba the other in Vietnam. Now, he is passionate about helping fellow veterans transition back to civilian life. On Saturday, April 14, at 1 p.m., he will facilitate a presentation titled, “Answering the Call for Those Who Have Answered the Call of Duty - N.J. Veterans Helpline.” The presentation is being hosted by the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation at the Vietnam Era Educational Center in Holmdel.
Master Sergeant Arnold, a peer counselor for veteran’s issues at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, will describe what is was like when he returned home from the war. His discussion will focus on the assistance offered on the New Jersey Veterans Helpline, 1-866-VETS-NJ-4 (1-866-838-7654).
By calling the free, confidential helpline at anytime of the day, callers will be connected to a veteran peer counselor, a volunteer veteran, or a professional counselor. The New Jersey Veterans Helpline is sponsored by University Behavioral HealthCare (UBHC), a division of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), and the New Jersey Department of Military and Veteran’s Affairs (DMAVA).
Why is the helpline important? Master Sgt. Arnold, who also served with the N.J. Army National Guard, said, “When I returned home, I had a general reluctance to be with people. I has a heightened startled reflex and a strange feeling that I was on the outside looking in - no longer part of life’s events. For me, talking to other active duty friends was a great help, but finding those who were aware and open to talking was another issue.”
Since the helpline was launched in 2005, the largest volume of callers has been from Middlesex, Bergen, Union and Somerset counties. Both male and female veterans have called with little distinction in the number of calls from each gender. The most common mental health symptoms reported are: depression, anxiety, paranoia, flashbacks, and agitation. The most common issues reported by veterans and their families are: difficulty adjusting back to civilian life, relationship challenges, unemployment, and an inability to maintain a job.
According Cherie Castellano, program director of the New Jersey Veterans Helpline at UMDNJ’s University Behavioral HealthCare, although the initial reentry into the U.S. can be exciting, it’s important to be aware that Post Traumatic Stress Symptomology can surface at anytime following the veterans return home. “Remember everyone reacts differently to stress and that there are many ways symptoms can manifest,” said Castellano. “We want our veterans to know we are humbled to have an opportunity to serve them. They answered the call of duty and we are answering the call from them.”
Symptoms of stress may include:
* Re-experiencing a negative event, which can take on the form of intrusive thoughts and recollections to recurring dreams
* Avoidance behavior occurs when an individual avoids activities, situations, people, and/or conversations that he or she associates with trauma
* A general numbness and loss of interest in surroundings, which can also appear as detachment
* Hypersensitivity including: inability to sleep, overactive startled response, hyper-vigilance, irritability, and outbursts of anger
If you or a friend, loved one, or colleague are a veteran who is experiencing any of these symptoms, call the New Jersey Veteran’s Helpline at 1-866-VETS-NJ-4 (1-866-838-7654) on any day at any time.
For more information, visit the New Jersey Veteran’s Helpline at: http://www.njveteranshelpline.org/.
UMDNJ is the nation’s largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,700 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and a school of public health on five campuses. Annually, there are more than two million patient visits at UMDNJ facilities and faculty practices at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a statewide mental health and addiction services network.