Mayor Fulop & Health and Human Services Launch Multiple Initiatives to Boost Comprehensive Support Services for Veterans, Mental and Physical Health
Posted on 05/01/2024
Veterans photo

Fulop Administration Sees 500% Increase in Veterans Services; New Programs Include Vets with Pets, Veterans in Total Active Lifestyle (VITAL), & The Mission Continues

JERSEY CITY, NJ — Mayor Steven M. Fulop joins the Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Veterans Affairs, and Jersey City veterans to launch two new innovative programs aimed at supporting and honoring our local heroes: Vets with Pets and Veterans in Total Active Lifestyle (VITAL). Since Mayor Fulop established Jersey City’s Veterans Affairs Division in 2018 to educate, empower, and engage local veterans, the city has grown the veterans support network in a meaningful way, with a 500% increase in veterans services to date.

Each new program is designed to help bridge gaps and build communities of like-minded people by providing a safe space for veterans to receive critical support and creating new opportunities to help all veterans better care for themselves and their comrades through a range of collaborative programs and activities geared towards healing and transitioning back into civilian life.

“These important initiatives expand upon our commitment to providing veterans with the support and avenues essential to their success and well-being in civilian life,” said Mayor Fulop, a Marine Corps Veteran. “We are grateful for the service and sacrifice of our veterans, and it is our duty to provide them with the necessary resources for a smooth reintegration into society, especially considering the prevalent challenges concerning their mental and physical wellness."

VITAL programs are now available to all veterans with weekly activities centered around the following support services:

  • Support Groups - Engages veterans in group conversations focusing on healing, sharing daily life and struggles, and giving them a safe space with an on-site clinician.
  • Breathing Space: Meditation Group - Emphasizes the importance of mindfulness, employing mindful strategies, incorporating meditative practices into daily life, and enhancing productivity, focus, creativity, and clarity.
  • Nutrition - Utilizing Healthier Greens and the Division of Food and Nutrition, the program equips veterans with the tools for healthier eating habits, focusing on heart health, nutrition for each individual, food preparation, and eating on a budget.
  • Fitwell - Uses exercise, such as walking and running clubs, as the catalyst to create meaningful connections as veterans work together toward a common health goal.

“May is a month where we recognize veterans and their service in the lead-up to Memorial Day, and we are kicking it off with the launch of vital social and lifestyle services where we can engage veterans from all six branches of the military in activities that tap into every part of their lives: mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually,” added Stacey Flanagan, the Director of the Department of Health and Human Services. “ Honor our Vets with Pets is a uniquely special initiative where we connect veterans with the companionship of shelter animals at no cost, providing veterans with the emotional support and companionship of pet ownership while also giving animals a loving forever home.”

Pets for VetsHonor our Vets with Pets is a new collaborative program HHS is introducing in partnership with the Jersey City Police Department’s POBA leadership and the city’s new Division of Animal Care and Control. Veterans and their newly adopted pets undergo six weeks of training to best fit the veterans’ needs, from basic obedience to recognizing panic or anxiety disorder behaviors.

JCPD POBA Executive Board Member Letia Nalls leads the Vets with Pets project. “Together, we're creating a bond that transcends words, offering companionship and understanding to those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom. Honor our Pets with Vets is not just about connecting veterans with furry companions; it's about honoring the selfless service of our veterans and healing invisible wounds with unconditional love and restoring purpose, one paw at a time."

For the entire month of May, HHS will offer free pet adoptions for all eligible veterans.

“In addition to these two new programs, we are engaging our veteran community with our annual event in partnership with The Mission Continues, where we invite veterans and civilians for a day of service with various projects throughout the city,” said Juliet Foster, an Air Force Veteran and Director of the Division of Veteran Affairs.

This year’s veteran-led service project will take place at the historic Harsimus Cemetery on May 4, 2024. Volunteers are welcome to join the cleanup, in partnership with The Mission Continues, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Jersey City encourages veterans and their families to learn more about all the available programs and opportunities by visiting the city’s Veterans Affairs website or contacting 201-547-4919.

All media inquiries should be directed to Kim Wallace-Scalcione at [email protected].