Commissioners focus on military appreciation, mental health awareness


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Staff Writer/The Sun

Prior to making a motion on agenda items at its May 26 virtual meeting, the Burlington County Board of Commissioners took a moment to recognize mental health awareness and the military.

The board prepared a proclamation to make May mental health awareness month. Commissioner Linda A. Hynes noted that May is a time to raise awareness to those living with mental or behavioral health issues.

Mental health issues affect the ability to sustain an individual thought process, form relationships, be productive and adapt to change. One in five U.S. adults experiences mental illness each year; one in 20 has a serious issue each year. One in six U.S. kids from 6 to 17 years old experiences a mental health disorder each year.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people 10 to 34.

“My daughter suffers from a severe panic anxiety disorder,” Hynes noted. “Her anxiety began to control her life by the time she was 12 years old, and by the time she was 13, it was so crippling that she could not leave the house for two full years.”

The commissioners approved the mental health proclamation so the county will gain a better understanding of mental health and promote the identification and treatment of mental illnesses.

Commissioner Deputy Director Daniel J. O’Connell then read through the second proclamation on the motion to approve May as military appreciation month.

Burlington County is home to more veterans than any other county in New Jersey. Over 40,000 service members and civilian defense employees work at McGuire Air Force Base in the county; it is the second largest employer in the state.

“We also owe the 8,000 and more members of the New Jersey National Guard our thanks and appreciation,” O’Connell said. “They have helped to provide medical care and long-term care facilities, assisted with logistics to COVID-19 testing sites and helped … to reduce hospital capacity.”

In Burlington, the New Jersey National Guard helps monitor vaccine mega-sites by assisting with operations, scheduling, traffic management and security.

In other news:

  • The board approved submitting an application for the Human Services Advisory Council (HSAC) planning grant for July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2023, for $128,598.
  • The board authorized the purchase of 75 body cameras and accessories from WatchGuard Video Inc. for an amount not to exceed $279,988. Payment is contingent on the availability and appropriation of funding utilizing a state contract for the sheriff’s department.
  • Commissioners also approved renewal of the Department of Corrections partnership agreement with the Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health to continue funding for medication-assisted treatment of inmates at the Burlington County Detention Center from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022.
  • The board also passed authorization for the Department of Corrections on the request for tablet services at the detention center.

Before closing the meeting, Commissioner Director Felicia Hopson reminded the public of upcoming events, including the second Burlington County Restaurant Week, from June 21-27.

“This is our initiative to help local restaurants, with helping our community members come back to what we know as normalcy out on the other side of the pandemic,” she said. “Our local restaurants are the backbone of our county: They pay taxes, they employ so many people, so we are hoping that our restaurants will participate.”

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