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NH Pilot Program "Supports the Troops" In Ways They Really Need

March 21, 2008

Manchester, NH - As the war in Iraq enters its sixth year, a pilot program in New Hampshire is reaching out to "support the troops" before, during, and after deployment. A collaborative effort involving the Defense Department, New Hampshire's Department of Health and Human Services, Easter Seals and others is offering financial and emotional support to try to make it easier for military families to ask for help, and to reduce the stress that can lead to mental health risks.

Nancy Rollins with the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services says they became involved after becoming aware of the problems faced by service people overseas.

"Whether there was an adolescent that may have been acting up or a family that didn't have the resources to fix the furnace, we were thinking this is the last thing that someone who is stationed in Afghanistan or Iraq should be having to worry about."

National Guardsmen from all across the state have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in the five years since the Iraq War began.

Rollins says the program includes satellite offices for Guard members in New Hampshire's north country.

"If we have a soldier in Berlin for instance, it's quite a hike for them to go to either White River Junction or to Manchester. We really want to make sure that we have the ability to serve them in their own communities."

The New Hampshire program is one of just six in the nation designed to provide an integrated support system, especially for those living far away from traditional VA centers.

John Robinson/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - NH