A New Haven mental health clinic has received a federal grant to help the children of military families. The clinic aims to use the funding to fill a gap that exists in the VA health care system.
In its 100-year history, Clifford Beers clinic has focused on mental health care. The clinic now specializes in services for children and families. Executive Director Alice Forrester says a new $1.6 million grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will allow the clinic to provide special treatment to the families of servicemembers who've experienced trauma. "A lot of times the person who comes back is different than the person who left. You know their personality, their needs are different and so really the whole family re-learning how to be with each other and sharing love and a connection." Blair Hughes has seen those changes firsthand. She's the wife of an Army infantryman who was deployed to Iraq three times. After sixteen years in the military, Hughes says her husband is now homebound. "He was in ten IEDs, (explosions) so he was med-evaced home from the tenth IED. He had a spinal cord injury, a shoulder injury, a leg injury, a pretty severe traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress, I basically ended up being his full time caregiver. " And while her husband and she as his caregiver can receive treatment and support from the VA, their children cannot. "I end up panicked in closed rooms, I end up with anxiety in crowds because I have to be so in tune with him and I know my kids have the same thing going on. I hope Clifford Beers will be able to work with them on that." The clinic will partner with the VA's Errera Center in West Haven and will gather data to share with civilian mental health professionals on the best practices to serve the needs of military families.