New veteran’s outreach program at Community Services

Benjamin Mayhew III (left), Juliette Fay, and Nat Benjamin enjoyed a sail aboard Charlotte, donated by Nat with lunch donated by Jaime Hamlin. —Photo by Ralph Stewart

Martha’s Vineyard Community Services (MVCS) recently announced the launch of a Veterans Outreach Program as part of a new state contract awarded to the agency in July. The program will provide services to the Island’s more than 400 veterans and their extended families, with a particular focus on veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.

As part of the new program, the Island Counseling Center (ICC) recently began offering a Spouses/Significant Others support group. The focus of this group is to provide a safe, supportive, and empathic environment where spouses can share their thoughts and feelings about common experiences and learn healthy coping skills.

“This new biweekly support group is a great complement to the weekly Combat Veterans group we currently have in place at ICC,” said Tom Bennett in a press release. Mr. Bennett is the associate executive director/senior clinical adviser at MVCS and has devoted much of his time and energy as a mental health counselor to helping fellow Islanders who have served their country in combat roles. “While it’s vital to have treatment in place for veterans, supports for spouses and families are very important as well.”

In addition to the spouses support group, MVCS will also be offering an informational M.V. Veterans Support Series, which will include presentations and panelsfocusing on topics specially designed to meet the needs of Martha’s Vineyard veterans and their families. To kick off the series on October 18,  Dr. Dominic Maxwell, ICC’s medical director, spoke on the signs, symptoms, and treatments available for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The next session in the series will take place in December (date TBD) and will focus on Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), one of the signature injuries of troops wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq. The presentation and discussion will focus on care for wounded warriors suffering from this condition and the latest research to improve diagnosis and treatment.

“We are enthusiastic about the progress we’ve made so far with this initiative,” said Juliette Fay, MVCS executive director, who recently joined three Vineyard veterans and their spouses for a sail aboard Nat Benjamin’s boat, Charlotte. “This is just the beginning and we are eager to initiate some new ventures, thanks to collaborative efforts with Jo Ann Murphy and the Dukes County Veterans Services.” Among these upcoming ventures in the planning stages are a yoga series for veterans and spouses, a veterans potluck dinner and thank you ceremony, and a parents support group.

Veterans are encouraged to join the new M.V. Veterans Facebook group whose mission is to provide a network of resources for our local veterans and their families.

For further information contact Julie Meader at