MASSENA - Hospital officials are encouraging community members to come out for the 20th anniversary of Massena Memorial Hospitals Veterans Clinic.
The ceremony will be held from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. today on the front lawn of MMH and will include an awards ceremony, a barbecue lunch and speeches from local veterans, including a World War II veteran who was captured and held in a German concentration camp. Tina Corcoran, senior director of communications and planning for MMH, said the ceremony is open to anyone in the community, and hospital officials would like community groups to RSVP beforehand.
Starting as a four-room clinic in the early 1990s, the veterans clinic has since expanded to seven exam rooms, occupying four times the floor space, and provides a vast variety of services to treat physical and mental health issues facing area veterans. Services include mental health counseling and telepsychiatry that remotely connects area vets with mental health professionals in Syracuse, in addition to a number of basic services for veterans physical health.
Ms. Corcoran says MMH has recently expanded its mental health counseling for younger veterans suffering from post traumatic stress after service in Iraq or Afghanistan. One area resident had previously been forced to drive to Plattsburgh to see a mental health counselor.
Ms. Corcoran also pointed out there is a high need for veterans services in the north country, with a particularly high rate of military service among residents. Approximately 9,500 of the countys roughly 112,000 residents have some history of military service. More than 2,000 of those veterans have enrolled in MMHs veterans clinic, and the clinic itself sees an average of 900 visits per month.
The date for the event was chosen because May is Veterans Appreciation Month, and Memorial Day will be observed on Monday.