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New VA Annex Dedicated to Treating Serious Mental Illness Opens in Orange, CT

October 25, 2020

ORANGE, CT – The new Veterans Affairs (VA) Annex in Orange, an expansion of the West Haven VA, opened with a ribbon-cutting on October 16, WTNH News 8 reported, noting that the facility is “designed to combat a different kind of epidemic.”

The new VA Annex is “more focused on keeping veterans from falling victim to drug addiction, mental health issues and suicide,” News 8 reported.

Diana Brassell “helps other veterans now, but she struggled when she left the military,” and told News 8 of her “multiple suicide attempts and relentless self-harming behaviors that were punctuated with numerous in-patient psychiatric admissions, homelessness, residential programs, and eventually a nursing home placement.”

Greek-American Dr. Ismene Petrakis, a Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine and the Director of the Mental Health Service Line at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System, told News 8 that “this is a facility that is dedicated to treating serious mental illness, substance abuse disorders, homelessness. We have augmented the mental health staff with wellness, with whole body health.”

The large facility is about 45,000 square feet, and five members of Congress attended the ribbon cutting, “a testament to the importance of a different epidemic the VA has been fighting for years,” News 8 reported.

“When we are losing 17 veterans, that’s the average, every day, to coronavirus, we continue to lose 20 veterans a day to suicide,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), News 8 reported.

Diana Brassell told News 8 that she “got help at the West Haven facility known as the Errera Center, which the Orange Annex now replaces” and “that help made all the difference.”

“You saw through my rough, calloused exterior and discovered a gentle wounded warrior that I carefully buried in an effort to survive,” Brassell said to the staff at the VA, News 8 reported.

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