Colonel (Retired) James D. McDonough, Jr. has joined the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth) as a Senior Fellow for Veterans Affairs, beginning March 5, 2012. Colonel McDonough, a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, is currently President and CEO of the Veterans Outreach Center in Rochester, New York. Previously, he served as Director of the New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs. In his new role at NYSHealth, he will focus on building support in New York State and nationally to meet the healthcare, mental health, and social service needs of returning war veterans and their families.
“Jim McDonough is the perfect person to have on our team as we continue to shine a light on not only the needs of the 85,000 New Yorkers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, but all generations of veterans and their family members,” said James R. Knickman, President and CEO of NYSHealth. “He brings such a wealth of experience to this new role: his own military service, his work in State government, his tireless efforts in Rochester to connect veterans and their families with community-based services. His dedication and passion have already helped to shape the Foundation’s initiatives to support veterans and their families, and he has the energy and expertise to elevate and expand this important work.”
Although most veterans returning home are healthy and thriving, existing services are not sufficient to meet the full range of veterans’ concerns and the needs of their family members. A 2011 NYSHealth-supported report by the RAND Corporation found that nearly one-quarter (22%) of veterans surveyed have a probable diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder and/or major depression, yet only half of those who sought mental health treatment received adequate care.
The report—the first-ever statewide assessment of the needs of returning veterans and their families—also found that nearly half of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan would prefer to receive care and services in their communities, rather than through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) system. Outreach to connect veterans and their families with existing services and better coordination among government and community agencies are essential for this generation of veterans, who are more likely to return to neighborhoods than to military bases.
“As someone who has been through the experience of coming back home after serving their country, I know firsthand that the struggles veterans and their families face when they return are community issues,” said Colonel McDonough. “And we know that a whole range of factors—education, employment, and housing, as well as physical and mental health—affect the health and well-being of returning veterans and their families. I’m excited that my new role at the New York State Health Foundation will provide the opportunity to work on all of those fronts, to connect with government agencies, community groups, veterans’ organizations, families, and other funders to advocate for services that meet the needs of veteran families.”
In his position as the Senior Fellow for Veterans Affairs, Colonel McDonough will play a central role in the Foundation’s efforts to:
- advance public policy to ensure that veterans’ funding meets the needs of New York State’s returning veterans and their families;
- increase comprehensive community-based services for veterans and their families;
- build knowledge and cultural competency related to military issues among primary care and mental health providers to help them better meet the unique needs of returning veterans and their families; and
- create a repository for nonpartisan, independent information regarding the needs of veterans and their families for policymakers, advocates, journalists, and others who need to make informed policy decisions.
Colonel McDonough’s leadership at the Veterans Outreach Center and at the New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs was informed by his 26 years of active and distinguished service in the United States Army. He is an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran and has served in numerous command, staff, and leadership positions throughout the Army and around the world. He is a graduate of the United States Army War College and holds multiple Masters' degrees. He and his wife Barbara are the proud parents of three sons, Matthew, Andrew, and Nicholas.