A new financial boost will help The Pathway Home better assist war veterans after they leave its doors, according to officials of the Yountville therapy center.
Pathway on Tuesday announced a two-year, $200,000 grant it received from the Newman’s Own Foundation, the charity founded by and named for the late actor Paul Newman.
Mike Horak, Pathway’s development director, said the grant is expected to pay for expanded therapy for the home’s 15 or so live-in clients, former service members in Iraq and Afghanistan who are being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries suffered in combat.
Pathway applied for the grant in October and won the Newman foundation’s approval a month later, although Horak said the foundation waited until this week to announce the awards.
Funds from the Newman foundation will be used to expand the support network for service members who have completed the Pathway program and are re-entering civilian life, the home’s executive director, Fred Gusman, said Tuesday.
A Google-based video chat system will allow former clients and their relatives to speak remotely with Pathway staff at weekly intervals, or after personal emergencies that otherwise could trigger a mental-health relapse. The network would augment the home’s existing support system, which is based on text messaging.
In addition to easing access to Pathway counseling, the video-based consultations should help relieve some of the pressure felt by military spouses dealing with their loved ones’ problems daily.
“People who are connected to (veterans) in an intimate way will also be affected” by their partners’ troubles, Gusman said. “It’s vicarious traumatization; by being so close and so exposed to the anger and struggles they go through, it impacts the whole family.”
Money from the Newman foundation also will pay for a staff member to manage the 50 or so volunteers who work with Pathway clients and run the home’s social media outreach, according to Horak. The new employee would coordinate the appearances of fly fishers, golf professionals and others to make their services more widely available to veterans in the Pathway program.
Pathway operates on an annual budget of $1.35 million, but funding problems led the home on the grounds of the Veterans Home of California to temporarily reduce its staffing and patient slots last year, a step Horak said this and other grants should prevent in 2013. The home expects to take on about 10 new veterans in February, Gusman added.
“This amounts to 8 or 9 percent of our budget, so it’s a nice chunk of the budget,” said Horak.
Pathway also is waiting on the fate of attempts by Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, to sponsor federal funding for medical treatment outside the Department of Veterans Affairs.
A budget amendment co-sponsored by Thompson would have reserved $10 million for a five-year pilot project allowing service members and veterans to be treated at certain non-VA centers such as Pathway. The amendment passed the House in May but was not adopted in the Senate’s version of the budget.
Thompson’s spokesman, Austin Vevurka, said the congressmen plans to reintroduce it in the new House session.
Pathway was one of 40 nonprofits serving military veterans to receive grants in the latest funding round, according to Jan Schaefer, spokeswoman for the Newman foundation.
Based in Westport, Conn., the foundation has its roots in the Newman’s Own food products line Paul Newman began in 1982 with salad dressings and then expanded to pasta sauces, popcorn, fruit juices and other categories. The film star steered all profits to charitable causes. In 2005, three years before his death, he created a foundation to direct his philanthropic work.