CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y., April 3, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The North Shore-LIJ Health System's Foundation and Law & Psychiatry Institute have established a $200,000 endowment to fund a scholarship and summer fellowship program that will focus on educating students at the Touro Law Center on the legal challenges facing veterans. The endowment is named in honor of Sol Wachtler, a life trustee of the North Shore-LIJ Health System, former chief judge of the New York State Court of Appeals, a longtime member of the Touro Law Center's Board of Governors and a Korean War Army veteran.
The endowment includes $90,000 to be allocated to a fund supporting an annual scholarship that will be awarded to a Touro Law student who is a veteran or is focusing on studying veterans' issues, mental health or disability law, according to an agreement announced today by North Shore-LIJ and Touro Law Center, based in Central Islip, NY. The endowment also will create a separate $90,000 fund that will sponsor an annual summer fellowship for a student to work at Touro Law's Veterans' and Servicemembers' Rights Clinic or at another location that focuses on veterans' law and mental health. In addition to the scholarship and fellowship, the donation will provide $20,000 to fund a conference focusing on the intersection of veterans' mental health and legal issues.
Over the last several years, Judge Wachtler and the North Shore-LIJ Law & Psychiatry Institute have collaborated with Chief Judge Lippman, the Unified Court System of New York, the Veterans' Administration, and the District Attorneys of Kings, Queens and Nassau counties to support the establishment of county-based Veterans' Mental Health Courts. These courts are designed to divert veterans with mental health disorders, including substance abuse, who have committed nonviolent criminal offenses from incarceration to behavioral health evaluation and treatment.
"We owe a tremendous debt to our servicemen and women for the extraordinary sacrifices they make in our defense," said New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman. "I commend former Chief Judge Wachtler for his continued support of this important program, which serves to equip aspiring attorneys with specialized tools and knowledge in an effort to better address the unique legal needs of our returning veterans."
Patricia Salkin, Dean of Touro Law Center, said the new endowment will enhance the services already being provided by Touro Law's Veterans' and Servicemembers' Rights Clinic, which helps veterans charged with criminal offenses by diverting them from the traditional criminal justice system and providing them with the tools they need to live productive lives, through treatment and judicial monitoring. "This scholarship fund establishes a legacy that recognizes and honors the commitment of Judge Wachtler to veterans' courts and veterans in need, including those whose service to our country has resulted in or contributed to psychiatric, neuropsychiatric or psychosocial issues," said Dean Salkin.
The creation of the endowment is part of North Shore-LIJ's ongoing commitment to help military veterans and their family members. In addition to supporting the Touro Law initiatives, the health system has established veteran-focused treatment programs, including a first-of-its-kind collaboration – supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation -- with the US Department of Veterans' Affairs to provide coordinated behavioral health care to veterans and their families under one roof at a unified treatment center in Bay Shore, NY. Last year, North Shore-LIJ created a business employee resource group, called Veterans and Allies: Liaisons of Reintegration (VALOR), to provide a sense of community to military personnel, their families, veterans and those interested in veterans' affairs. VALOR also organizes veterans' employment workshops. In a reflection of its support for veterans, since 2010 the North Shore-LIJ Health System has nearly tripled the number of veterans hired annually, to 124 in 2013. For these and other efforts supporting veterans, North Shore-LIJ has been recognized as one of the nation's most veteran-friendly employers.
"As our military service men and women return from recent combat theaters in Iraq and Afghanistan and reintegrate into civilian life, it is important to continue to raise awareness of the challenges facing veterans and their families, especially if their lives become entangled in our legal system, often as a consequence of an underlying behavioral health issue like post-traumatic stress disorder, " said Blaine Greenwald, MD, chair of the medical advisory committee for the North Shore-LIJ Law and Psychiatry Institute, which engages in advocacy, education, program development and clinically related initiatives intended to bridge the divide between the criminal justice and mental health systems. "This scholarship, fellowship and conference will help future legal professionals learn how to advocate for our veterans, and ensure that those afflicted with mental illness who have broken the law are properly evaluated and treated -- and not mistakenly criminalized."
About North Shore-LIJ Health System
One of the nation's largest health systems, North Shore-LIJ delivers world-class clinical care throughout the New York metropolitan area, pioneering research at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, a visionary approach to medical education highlighted by the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine, and healthcare coverage to individuals, families and businesses through the North Shore-LIJ CareConnect Insurance Co. Inc. North Shore-LIJ cares for people at every stage of life at 17 hospitals and more than 400 outpatient physician practices throughout the region. North Shore-LIJ's owned hospitals and long-term care facilities house more than 6,000 beds, employ more than 10,000 nurses and have affiliations with over 9,400 physicians. With a workforce of about 48,000, North Shore-LIJ is the largest private employer in New York State. For more information, go to www.northshorelij.com.
About Touro Law Center
Touro Law Center's 185,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art facility is located adjacent to both a state and a federal courthouse in Central Islip, New York. Touro Law's proximity to the courthouses, coupled with programming developed to integrate the courtroom into the classroom, provide a one-of-a kind learning model for law students, combining a rigorous curriculum taught by expert faculty with a practical courtroom experience. Touro Law, which has a student body of approximately 750 and an alumni base of more than 5,000, offers full- and part-time J.D. programs, several dual degree programs and graduate law programs for US and foreign law graduates. Touro Law Center is part of the Touro College system.
About the Touro College and University System
Touro is a system of non-profit institutions of higher and professional education. Touro College was chartered in 1970 primarily to enrich the Jewish heritage, and to serve the larger American and global community. Approximately 19,000 students are currently enrolled in its various schools and divisions. Touro College has branch campuses, locations and instructional sites in the New York area, as well as branch campuses and programs in Berlin, Jerusalem, Moscow, Paris and Florida. New York Medical College, Touro University California and its Nevada branch campus, as well as Touro University Worldwide and its Touro College Los Angeles division are separately accredited institutions within the Touro College and University System. For further information on Touro College, please go to: http://www.touro.edu/media/
Source:North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System