This past Wednesday, the Mental Health Association of New York City (MHA-NYC) brought together over 500 business leaders, government officials, and veterans and their families to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel for its Annual Gala Working for Wellness and Beyond. The evening was dedicated to companies and their leaders who are committed to supporting hundreds of thousands of America’s Armed Forces service members who have returned to civilian life with significant reintegration challenges, specifically those related to mental health and unemployment. The sold-out affair raised more than $1 MILLION.
The event paid tribute to longtime advocate for veterans and their families, Gregory J. Fleming, President of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management and Investment Management, and Staff Sergeant Salvatore A. Giunta, Medal of Honor Recipient, and the first living person since the Vietnam War to receive the honor. Special Guest Col. Jack H. Jacobs, also a Medal of Honor Recipient, presented the award to Giunta.
MHA-NYC has long worked in partnership with veteran service organizations and other key stakeholders, including the Veterans Administration, to address the myriad of emotional and social challenges veterans face after leaving the battlefield. “Once upon a time, we thought veterans went to war, came back, and picked up neatly where they left off,” said Kevin Danehy, Chairman, MHA-NYC Board of Directors. “Now we know better. We know many returning veterans struggle not only with physical injuries but also with the psychological injuries of war. We need to help veterans weave back in to the fabric of daily life and re-establish caring, supportive communities,” he added.
While MHA-NYC offers specific programs that are designed to help veterans make better transitions and lead emotionally stable lives, the 50-year-old not-for-profit agency addresses the needs of all people struggling with mental health issues. “This year, MHA-NYC has provided services to over a million people in emotional distress,” said Giselle Stolper, President and CEO, MHA-NYC. “Wherever we see need, we identify the problem; we make communities aware of it; we convene people and advocate for resources to address it; and, we develop innovative solutions using tools that range from face-to-face services to the latest technology,” she said.
Maurice Davis, 24, a client currently enrolled in MHA-NYC’s programs, shared his personal story about being diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and how MHA-NYC was instrumental in his recovery. “Today, I’m clean, I am taking medication, and I am part of a community of people who want to see me succeed,” said Davis. “I want to go college. I want to become a psychologist so that other young people can have what I didn’t have – someone who understands mental illness and knows firsthand that it is nothing to be ashamed of.”
Raising that kind of money isn’t easy, especially in one night. Check out this great organization that is helping out our retiring service men and women!