NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has launched a campaign to urge veterans to get help for if they need it.
The campaign is called “Mental Health Means a Stronger You.” It aims to reshape the perceptions and treatment by outlining the success stories of vets who have reached out for mental health support.
WCBS 880 Producer Neil A. Carousso talked about the campaign this week with Marine Corps veteran Moses Maddox – now veterans retention counselor at California State University San Marcos – and Dr. Wendy Tenhula, director of innovation and collaboration at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
It is part of the “Make a Connection” program, the VA’s ongoing national mental health outreach effort.
“While the conversation for mental health has gotten better, there’s still this stigma that, you know, either you’re weak or you’re crazy – a variety of things that people say when it comes to seeking, you know, mental health, that frankly just aren’t true, and that treatment is something that should be thought out, and that recovery can be achieved as long as you take your treatment seriously and as long as you actually go out there and seek that help,” Maddox said.
Maddox said some veterans might not seek out mental health care because of the stigma, some are concerned that it might limit their employment opportunities, and some don’t want to admit they need help because they feel like they can go through anything after having gone to war.
“And then they come home, and something as simple as a college class is extremely difficult because they’re cycling through things,” Maddox said. “So there’s a variety of reasons why people don’t go seek help, and this movement that we’re trying to do; this message is to say, ‘Hey, OK, people have been there before. We’ve gone through it. You’re not alone. Don’t be afraid to open yourself up and get that help.”
Tenhula said the “Make a Connection” program was launched a few years ago “to raise awareness about mental health conditions and to inform veterans, as well as their family members and other loved ones, as well as their country at large, that mental health conditions are treatable.”
She said hundreds of veterans have come forward and talked about their own difficulties, the treatments they have received, and how those treatments have made a difference.
“There are effective treatments available, and that recovery is possible,” Tenhula said.
Maddox said there are many factors that go into an effective mental health care treatment program.
“One is having a really good counselor who is very honest about the process; who told me that some days are going to be better than others; that there’s going to be sessions where I might leave the session feeling worse than when I started, but it was all part of the process,” he said.
He added that the first step is just to get help and understand that doing so can be scary and stressful – particularly since a therapist will start out as a stranger to whom a veteran is assigned.
“But keep in mind that it is OK; that it is a process, and you have to stick with it. There’s going to be days where it’s incredibly difficult. There’s going to be times when it’s going to be hard to go out of bed, and there’s always an excuse; a reason not to go. You have to not listen to that,” Maddox said. “Once you take that first step, you have to follow through, and those stressors tend to go away once you get comfortable with the process; once you start to see little incremental changes.”
The VA has also expanded the methods veterans can use to access mental health care, Tenhula said
“We’ve expanded the use of telehealth for mental health conditions, so a veteran can be in one location, and their doctor or therapist can be in another location, and they can work together using video conferencing technology. VA also has a number of mental health-related mobile phone apps,” she said.
Maddox’s message for other veterans was that he has an idea of what they’re going through – and he said veterans like openness, honesty, and frankness.
“It’s natural. But you’re not weak for going to seek out mental health treatment, and in fact, saying that I do need help is a great sign of strength, and that’s what we really encourage,” Maddox said.
NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — As part of Autism Awareness Month, and in partnership with Koeppel Auto Group, WCBS Newsradio 880 presented a program on news and weather reporting for a class of autistic young people from the Quality Services for the Autism Community Day Habilitation program.
The young people came to the showroom of Koeppel Ford in Woodside, Queens to hear from WCBS 880 Reporter Marla Diamond and Chief Meteorologist Craig Allen.
Diamond explained how she works as a reporter – including her early alarm clock, her computer skills, how she works out of her vehicle, and how she travels the city covering all kinds of interesting stories.
She demonstrated how she uses as microphone, digital recorder and audio editing software on her laptop. She recorded QSAC visitors reading news scripts and weather forecasts.
The QSAC young people also got a lesson in weather from Allen, a veteran of both radio and TV. He also brought tools of his trade — including a barometer, a lightning detector, and something that created a tornado effect in a glass tube.
The session concluded with questions and answers from the young people about everything from covering snow storms to what makes a good news story.
“So when we talked to the guys who came today about this potential opportunity, they were incredibly excited to meet people in the community who they see as absolute superstars, and they really were excited to learn about what you guys do, and to be in a place with fancy cars, with everybody giving them tons of attention, so they’re really excited to be a part of this today,” said QSAC Senior Director of Day Services Lauren Maldonado.
QSAC President and Chief Operating Officer Cory Polshansky said many in the program are making leaps and bounds toward independence. He mentioned one young man who has been with the program since he was a teenager.
“Now it’s 15 years later, and he’s grown into a young adult, and he’s developing the skills and hopes to one day live in his own apartment. And that’s what he’s been talking about for a couple of years, and he’s working at it, and in a couple years, he’ll probably be ready to live independently with some supports from QSAC,” Polshansky said.
The session was held at the Koeppel showroom in Queens as part of the auto group’s strong support of the QSAC organization.
“We would like to give back what we get. I mean, it’s kind of selfish to keep getting and not giving back,” Koeppel said.
Neil A. Carousso produced WCBS Newsradio 880’s digital content at QSAC’s Day of Habilitation program at Koeppel Auto Group on Friday, April 13, 2018.
A Look Back at Steve Scott’s Interviews With James Earl Ray, The Man Who Pleaded Guilty To Killing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — James Earl Ray pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 99 years in prison in the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which happened 50 years ago Wednesday.
But until his death at the age of 70 in 1998, Ray maintained that the guilty plea notwithstanding, he was not the one who killed Dr. King.
WCBS 880’s Steve Scott interviewed Ray several times – including two radio interviews in the prison where Ray was serving his sentence, first in 1992 and again shortly before Ray died in 1998.
Ray was a footnote in the grand scheme of history, Scott noted. But in 1992, Ray published a book, “Who Killed Martin Luther King? The True Story by the Alleged Assassin.” Upon seeing the book, Scott thought Ray might be an interesting person to talk to.
Scott went through Ray’s publisher to get in contact with him, and not long afterward, Ray called him at home.
“I was taking a nap one day, and got a collect call from a maximum security prison in Nashville, Tennessee, and there was James Earl Ray on the other end of the phone,” Scott said. “And I interviewed him, and then I asked him, I said, ‘Hey listen, if I can get myself down to Nashville, would you be willing to sit down in a room with me and record a radio interview face-to-face talking about the King assassination?’”
Scott said Ray responded, “Well, you know, they don’t like me a whole lot,” but said Scott could ask prison authorities. The prison authorities in turn said there were no rules against an interview, so Scott could come down to talk to Ray if he so desired.
So Scott, who was working in Chicago at the time, headed to Nashville and met with Ray at the Riverbend Maximum Security Prison in Nashville in 1992. Ray laughed as Scott played him a clip of CBS News’ Walter Cronkite from the night Dr. King was assassinated.
“Dr. Martin Luther King, the apostle of nonviolence in the civil rights movement, has been shot to death in Memphis, Tennessee. Police have issued an all-points bulletin for a well-dressed young white man seen running from the scene,” Cronkite said in the clip.
Ray said: “Well-dressed? That couldn’t have been me.”
Ray had been a fugitive from a Missouri prison at the time of the King assassination. He had a long criminal record that included armed robbery, burglary, forgery and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, CBS News reported.
Speaking to Scott, Ray said he was a low-level crook who ran guns over the Canadian and Mexican borders. He said he was duped into being in Memphis when Dr. King was killed on April 4, 1968.
Ray fled the city shortly after the shooting and was captured in London two months afterward, CBS News recalled. He signed a confession with a detailed description of how investigators claimed the crime happened, and went on to plead guilty, CBS News recalled.
CBS News reported the prosecutor in the case, Phil M. Canale Jr., maintained there was no evidence of a conspiracy in the King assassination. Canale did not outline a motive for the killing, nor did he accuse Ray, who was white, of being racist, CBS News reported.
Ray tried to withdraw the guilty plea three days after issuing it even though he had told the judge he understood the plea could not be appealed, CBS News reported. He claimed at the time that he was set up by a shadowy gun dealer he had met in Montreal and whom he knew only as Raoul, and said he himself was changing a tire at the time King was killed, CBS News reported.
Authorities never found a connection between the man identified as Raoul and the slaying, and several courts said there was never evidence of anyone else’s involvement, CBS News reported.
Ray told Scott in the 1992 interview that he was not involved in any way with the King assassination, and he said he pleaded guilty out of concern that his brother and father – the latter also a prison escapee who had been on the lam for more than four decades – might also face charges otherwise.
Scott: “James, I’ll ask you again, did you kill Martin Luther King?”
Ray: “No, I had nothing to do with the shooting of Martin Luther King, and I had no advance knowledge of it. But having said that, I had been, you know, committing criminal offenses. But I wouldn’t have got no 99 years for what I was doing.”
Scott: “You confessed to the King murder.”
Ray: “Yes… I didn’t really confess to it. I entered a guilty plea. There’s a difference between, you know, a confession and a guilty plea.”
Scott: “But why plead guilty to one of the most notorious murders of the 20th century if you didn’t do it?
Ray: “If I didn’t enter a guilty plea, they might charge my brother Jerry Ray for as a conspirator in the Martin Luther King murder.”
Scott: “Who had nothing to do with it?”
Ray: “He was working. They knew he was working at the time. He was working in Chicago at the time, six days a week. They also said they might arrest my father, and my father, he’d escaped from prison in 1925, and he’d been a fugitive ever since. So apparently, the Justice Department found out about it, and they told my attorney, Percy Foreman, and he came and told me that if I didn’t enter a guilty plea, that you know, they might put him back in jail. And so I agreed to enter a guilty plea on those conditions.”
In the interview, Ray suggested that the FBI was behind the King assassination, because then-Director J. Edgar Hoover was terrified of King’s influence over black America.
Ray also reminded Scott that he was a prison escapee himself in 1968, and said, “What better way to stay under the radar than to kill Martin Luther King?”
The U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded in 1978 that Ray was the man who killed Dr. King. But the committee concluded that a group of racial bigots in St. Louis – with a reported $50,000 bounty on King’s head, might have been involved too, CBS News reported in 1998.
As to whether he believes Ray was King’s assassination, Scott said: “He maintained until the day he died that he didn’t do it. Do I believe him? I’m not a big conspiracy guy. I’m really not. But there is a lot of compelling evidence – and the King family buys into this as well – that points, perhaps, to the fact that James Earl Ray at least did not act alone or didn’t do it at all. But you know what? If you give me 99 years in prison, I’m going to come up with some pretty good stories too. So the bottom line – I just don’t know.”
Neil A. Carousso produced and edited the backstory video with WCBS Newsradio 880 afternoon anchor Steve Scott.
Google’s Wendy Gonzalez Gives Advice On Sharpening Your Digital Skills At WCBS Small Business Breakfast
STAMFORD, Conn. (WCBS 880) — Participants learned how to take full advantage of the digital tools available for their business at the WCBS Small Business Breakfast Wednesday morning.
.@JoeConnollybiz and @GoogleSmallBiz expert Wendy Gonzalez, our featured guest at the WCBS #SmallBusinessBreakfast, discuss what they learned from small business owners this morning on how to “expand your digital presence” and transcend it into sales. pic.twitter.com/YzQs62D3R6
— wcbs880 (@wcbs880) March 28, 2018
Joining WCBS 880 Morning Business Anchor Joe Connolly at the Stamford Hilton was Google Small Business Marketing Expert Wendy Gonzalez. Guests heard tips on how to grow their business online and to sharpen their social media strategy.
How do you leverage your business using video on social media? Google Small Business Expert Wendy Gonzalez explains the importance of compelling video content and what that means for business owners who understand video on social media is important, but don’t know how to visually portray their businesses. Joe Connolly uses a real example from a small business owner at this morning’s Small Business Breakfast.
Posted by WCBS Newsradio 880 on Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Among the pieces of advice Gonzalez passed along was how to make the social media presence for a business engaging and personable – even if the business itself might seem to be on the dry side. Connolly mentioned one man he knew who worked as an accountant, and engaged potential clients on social media by showing himself coaching his Little League team on the weekends.
Google’s Wendy Gonzalez is answering business owners’ questions on digital marketing. #SmallBusinessBreakfast
“For a lot of people, the whole world in accounting is very scary, and it’s something that is the last thing on your to-do list to deal with. But everybody has to deal with taxes and business. You’ve got to deal with your finances – of course, you’ve got to deal with your finances,” Gonzalez said. “So you want to work with somebody who seems personable. The video can show that.”
Our Joe Connolly is live from the WCBS Small Business Breakfast with our featured guest, small business expert Wendy Gonzalez from Google.
She noted that no matter what the business, there is always something in that lends itself to video and social engagement.
“The first step, really, is to take a step back and say, ‘What’s our goal here?’ Because I think you can also see a lot of YouTube channels where they have a lot of videos, but none are very interesting. None feel very authentic. None feel like you’re getting information,” Gonzalez said. “So I think the first step is to say, ‘Well what’s the point? What am I really trying to do here?’ So in the case of that accountant, I think my goal would be, I am trying to show that I’m somebody that you want to hang with. I’m somebody that you can relate to. I’m coaching Little League. This is what I do on weekends. That is going to lead to a different video strategy and social media strategy, and someone who wants to show these products, or someone who wants to show these customer stories. It all depends a little bit on what your goal is.”
Joe Connolly is live at the WCBS Small Business Breakfast in Stamford, CT where the theme is “Expanding Your Digital Presence.”
Posted by WCBS Newsradio 880 on Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Following the discussion, Gonzalez said the most important takeaway was that businesses are looking for ways to find customers the same as ever, but with new tools at their disposal.
“To me, it’s still the bread and butter of business that people are looking for customers. And people are looking for customers now on all sorts of different platforms, and approaches and strategies on how to find those customers, but ultimately, that is still what people are looking to do, and digital is a great way to find those customers now,” she said.
Gonzalez noted that when it comes to digital strategy, businesses are going well beyond the “hours and directions” box on Google.
Joe Connolly and Google small business expert Wendy Gonzalez, our featured guest at the WCBS Small Business Breakfast, discuss what they learned from small business owners this morning on how to “expand your digital presence” and transcend it into sales.
Posted by WCBS Newsradio 880 on Wednesday, March 28, 2018
“When a business pops up on the right-hand side, that’s run through a program called ‘Google My Business.’ So business owners can claim that listing, and they can add their hours, and they can add photos, and respond to reviews, and we have a new feature called ‘local posts,’ where people can post information that’ll last for about a week, including videos – so just more engagement; new ways that people can – as a business owner – engage with their customers, right at those moments when customers are looking for them,” she said.
Google AdWords were also a major topic of interest at the breakfast. One man noted that if AdWord number one is too expensive, taking the second slot is not a bad idea.
“Ultimately, we are always trying to deliver a relevant experience to a user, so looking at your search term; looking at the ad text; looking at your website; finding what is relevant to whoever is searching, and sometimes that is the number two ad position,” Gonzalez said. “So of course, number one is great, but I think he made a great point that he sees a lot of success by sometimes being the number two search result.”
Now in its 23rd year, the WCBS Newsradio 880 Small Business Breakfast is the longest running small business event series in the New York area.
Neil A. Carousso produced WCBS Newsradio 880’s multi-media coverage of the Small Business Breakfast and assisted in organizing the event in Stamford, CT on March 28, 2018. All WCBS 880 videos and social media posts were written, edited and published by Neil A. Carousso.