VA New Jersey Health Care System
Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation New Dawn Staff Bios
Jennifer Alonso MSW/LSW was born in Brooklyn, NY and moved to Toms River NJ in the early 1990's. In high school she volunteered at the Brick Outpatient Clinic due to family members working at the VA. Jennifer's father is a combat veteran who served in Vietnam and is 100% service connected. The early experiences with the VA along with her father's experiences lead Jennifer to strive for a career in Social Work. She went to Rutgers University-New Brunswick in 1999 and graduated with her Bachelor's Degree in Social Work in 2004. Shortly after graduation she worked at Easter Seals of NJ treating mentally ill adults. In 2005 she worked at the Department of Veteran Affairs, Fort Monmouth and Lyons Campuses. Jennifer left at the end of 2005 to finish her Masters Degree in Social Work at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. While working on her Masters Degree, Jennifer worked at non-profit organizations like the Youth Advocate Program and Catholic Charities as a case manager. Jennifer finished her Masters Degree in January 2008 and passed her LSW exam in February 2008. Jennifer came to the Department of Veteran Affairs in April 2008 to work as a floating case manager for the OEF/OIF/OND Program working with OEF/OIF/OND veterans.
Robin Baptiste has been employed with the VA since 1996, after spending 10 years in the Air Force as a Communications Specialist. Robin is a Persian Gulf veteran, serving 2 tours in the Middle East. She is a graduate of Rutgers University, with a Bachelor's of English and plans to pursue a Master's Degree in Public Administration. Robin has worked for several different departments since joining the VA, and plans to bring her knowledge and experience of being a veteran and the transitioning process to the OEF/OIF/OND team, having experienced it herself.
Kaydeen Bishop completed her Bachelor of Science Degree in Sociology at Hunter College in 2000. She began her career working with victims of domestic violence who were accused of killing and/or assaulting their abusive partners and ran a support group for women who were detained at the Rose M. Singer Detention Center on Riker’s Island. After completing her Master’s of Social Work Degree from Fordham University in 2004, she worked for Prison Health Services (PHS) as a Mental Health Clinician and an Acting Unit Chief on Riker’s Island. Kaydeen has provided crisis intervention, clinical assessments, and diagnoses to adolescents and male detainees, as well as served as an administrative liaison for PHS and the New York City Department of Corrections. In 2009, Kaydeen joined the James J. Peters (Bronx) VA Medical Center as a Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing Case Manager. She began her current position as an OEF/OIF/OND Case Manager in New Jersey in 2013, and is enjoying continuing to serve Veterans and sharing her experience with the Team.
Carol Cashin graduated from Fordham University with a Master’s in Social Work Degree with a concentration in administration. She had worked in the brain injury field for ten years. Her work has included working with individuals with Traumatic Brain Injury, acquired brain injuries, and Huntington’s Disease. She started her career as an intern at JFK-Johnson Rehabilitation Center for Head Injuries and enjoyed working with this population so much that she devoted most of her career to working with children, adults, and families that have been affected by brain injury. Carol has also worked in hospice, at a long-term care rehabilitation center, and has worked as a group psychotherapist and served as a director of an affordable housing complex for individuals with brain injuries and developmental disabilities. Most recently, Carol worked for the Brain Injury Association of New Jersey as the Director of Family Support. She is very excited to be here at the VA and use her experience to assist those Veterans whom have sustained brain injuries.
Shannon Charles completed her Bachelor of Science Degree in Sociology at William Paterson University in 2003 with a minor in Multi-Cultural Studies. She began her career working with the State of New Jersey’s Child Protective Services where she focused on providing families with the in-home supports needed to help families remain intact, with the exception of child abuse situations. While working as a Family Service Specialist and with local inner-city programs for youth, Shannon attended Rutgers University where she completed her Masters of Social Work Degree in 2007. Shannon moved on to work as a medical social worker with incarcerated youth at the Essex County Juvenile detention Center serving a population with not only legal, but social, behavioral, and economic issues as well. In 2008, Shannon began her career at the VA New Jersey Health Care System, Lyons, as the Inpatient Patient Advocate. In this position, she worked closely with facility leadership and Veterans Service Organizations in efforts of improving the overall Veteran experience through various patient-centered initiatives. Shannon is eager to share her specialized experience in conflict resolution and looks forward to providing superior case management now as an OEF/OIF/OND Social Work Case Manager.
Lou was born and raised in Buffalo, New York, and upon graduation from high school, he entered the Army in 1969 and served until 1971 as a military policeman. He comes from a line of military family members who served in WWll. His father was a combat wounded POW. Upon Lou’s discharge, he worked for Ford Motor Company. He graduated from nursing school in 1984 with an Associate of Science Degree and began his nursing career with the Department of Veterans Affairs, obtaining his Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing along the way. He has over ten years of experience in the mental health field and 11 years of experience working in the Emergency Department.
Barbara is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a graduate degree from Fordham University. She has over 15 years experience working in the mental health field including inpatient, outpatient and day treatment settings with children and adults. Prior to entering the mental health field, Barbara worked in vocational rehabilitation doing vocational evaluation and work adjustment training. As Director of Rehabilitation for an agency in NJ, Barbara established a vocational track for the deaf and hard of hearing. She has recently joined the OEF/OIF/OND Transition Team as the Social Work Case Manager at Lyons. She is looking forward to working with the team to facilitate a positive transition experience for returning veterans.
Ms. Lee was born in South Korea and moved to the United State to pursue her Master’s degree in Social Work in 1999. She graduated from SUNY Albany with a concentration in Geriatric Social Work. After graduation, Ms. Lee worked for individuals new to the United States experiencing psychosocial stress and mental health issues including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, and Adjustment Disorder. Before joining the OEF/OIF/OND team, Ms. Lee worked at a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Adult Day Care Program. As a TBI Program Coordinator, Ms. Lee developed a Day Treatment Program and facilitated group therapies, recreational therapies, support groups, stress management groups, and Yoga groups.
Fran Michaels has been employed with the VA for 15 years. She has been a volunteer with Office of Emergency Management and served with the Fort Lee Crisis Team at the G W Bridge during 9/11. Fran is a graduate of NYU with a Bachelor's degree in English Education, Master's degree in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling, a graduate of the Columbia School of Social Work, and a PhD from Union Institute & University in Social Work and Gerontology. Fran is honored to be a permanent member of the OEF/OIF/OND team.
Ms. Neville has been a Registered Nurse with the VA New Jersey Health Care System since 2007. The majority of her tenure has been dedicated toward the case management of service men and women prior to their deployment and of returning military transitioning to civilian life. Her responsibilities have included assessing soldier’s medical, psychological and psychosocial needs immediately upon returning from theatre. Recently, Ms. Neville transferred to the VA New Jersey OEF/OIF/OND program. As a nurse, a case manager, and the daughter of a Veteran, Ms. Neville brings a thorough and compassionate understanding of the needs and challenges of our Veterans and their families.