Washington, DC -- Representative Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11) brought two community health providers from the 11th District to Washington today to speak about the opioid epidemic among veterans. At this morning’s Freshmen Working Group on Addiction meeting, Carmine V. Deo, Executive Director of Community Hope, Inc., and Geri K. Moss, Clinician with the True North Program for Veterans, spoke about the provider’s perspective of veterans and addiction, and shared potential ideas for policy initiatives.

 

“This morning, we heard about the important work happening in North Jersey to help veterans struggling with addiction, and the need for more support for nonprofits and community organizations, including better coordination between the VA and community health providers,” said Representative Sherrill. “I asked Geri and Carmine to come to Washington so my colleagues in Congress could hear directly from providers in New Jersey about the innovative work they do and how the federal government can be a better partner.”

 

“I’m glad that Representative Sherrill and the Freshmen Working Group on Addiction are focused on how the opioid epidemic intersects with caring for our veterans after their service,” said Carmine V. Deo. “In Morris County, we see how important wrap around services are to our veterans community struggling with addiction. We need more HUD investment for housing for veterans, extended VA treatment hours, increased access to Narcan, and more partnership with the VA and nonprofits to assist our veterans.”

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Representative Sherrill is a member of the bipartisan Freshmen Working Group on Addiction and leading on the issue of opioid addiction in the House of Representatives. One of the first bills Representative Sherrill helped authored in Congress was the bipartisan State Opioid Response Grant Authorization Act, which would fund a five-year authorization to provide additional treatment beds, expand treatment and recovery options, bridge gaps identified in systems of care, support robust prevention campaigns, and other actions taken by the states to address the opioid epidemic. Sherrill and her fellow sponsors secured $1.5 billion to the State Opioid Response Grant program for the next fiscal year in the House-passed Appropriations bill, a $500 million increase from the previous year.

 

In addition to the SOR Grant Authorization Act, Representative Sherrill co-sponsored the EFFORT Act to direct the National Science Foundation to conduct research into the opioid epidemic, which passed in the House in July 2019 with bipartisan support. To combat the flow of fentanyl from overseas, she co-sponsored the Fentanyl Sanctions Act, and voted for its passage as part of the House defense authorization bill.

 

Carmine V. Deo MBA, MSW, LCSWExecutive Director of Community Hope, Inc. Community Hope is a non-profit corporation in Parsippany, New Jersey, with the mission of helping individuals, including veterans and their families, overcome mental illness, addiction, homelessness, and poverty by providing housing and support services. Mr. Deo is an accomplished executive with experience in organizational strategy, change, and growth spans more than 29 years and includes developing and operating public and private veteran, mental health, substance use, and homeless services programs. Inter-agency collaboration, community organizing, and system improvement planning have been cornerstones of his leadership. Mr. Deo has served on and led numerous boards, committees, and task forces across NJ centered on improving social service systems and strengthening communities. He is also a proud recipient of the NJ Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies “Courage and Compassion” Award.

 

Geri K. Moss, MA, LPC, NCCClinician, Outpatient Behavioral Health, True North Program for Veterans. Geri Moss received her MA in Counseling from the Alliance Graduate School of Counseling in Nyack, NY, and is a licensed professional counselor in NJ and a National Certified Counselor. With a background in college administration and teaching at the high school level, she spent the last fourteen years as a therapist for adults with mental illness and substance use issues through individual and group counseling. Certified in Trauma Response and Crisis Intervention, Geri Moss initiated a trauma recovery group for patients while working in the Partial Hospital Program at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, NJ. Geri Moss joined Atlantic Health System, Morristown Medical Center, in July of 2017 to develop, promote and provide treatment in the newly initiated True North Program for veterans and their families. As an outpatient clinician, she offers behavioral health services in Morris County and Newton Medical Center in Sussex County. Their mission is also to provide referrals and linkages to resources in the community. True North partners with a variety of veteran service providers through county stakeholders groups.