VA New Jersey Health Care System
Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation New Dawn Staff Bios
Robin Baptiste, TPA
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.
Rachel Swiecicki, LCSW/LCADC
Rachel Swiecicki received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Montclair State University. Following this, she relocated to Chicago in 2005 to obtain her Masters in Social Work from Loyola University Chicago. Since completing her formal education, she went on to specialize in substance abuse and has worked at both inpatient and outpatient settings. She joined the VA in 2016, first working in Homeless Services, and now with TCM, enjoys assisting post-9/11 Veterans ease their transition from the military, providing them with support and encouragement.
Carol Cashin, LCSW
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.
Joseph Diacheysn, LSW
Joseph served in the United States Army from 2007-2013, with one tour in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from 2008-2009. After receiving an Honorable Discharge, Joseph earned his Master’s in Social Work from Rutgers University and is currently a Licensed Social Worker in the state of NJ. He began his career serving as a social work intern for the Community Living Center at the Lyons campus. He shortly thereafter joined the Transition and Care Management family as a TBI/Polytrauma Case Manager. Joseph comes from a long history of Army Veterans, where at least one male from each generation served in the U.S. Army. He is passionate about his work with Veterans and continues to give back to the Veteran community.
Meredith Fleece, LSW
Meredith proudly served in the United States Air Force from 2001-2005. After receiving an honorable discharge, Meredith earned her Master’s degree in social work from Monmouth University and is currently a Licensed Social Worker in the state of New Jersey. She began her career with the NJ VA Healthcare System as a Social Work intern for the Community Living Center at the Lyons Campus. Upon graduating, she joined the Transition and Care Management Program as a Case Manager. Meredith is proud of her father who served with the Marines during Vietnam. Both his military experience and her own have been a driving force to pursue her passion of working with the Veteran community. She is honored to be a part of the VA family and serve her fellow Veterans.
Jennifer Garcia, LCSW
Jennifer Garcia has been employed by the Department of Veteran Affairs since April 2008 as a Social Work Care Manager for the Transition and Care Management Program. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Rutgers University in 2004 and joined the VA briefly in 2005 where she worked at Fort Monmouth and Lyons VA Campuses. In 2006, Jennifer returned to graduate school and completed her Masters in Social Work Degree from Rutgers University. In 2008, she returned to the VA as a Transition and Care Manager working with the returning Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation New Dawn Veterans. Her passion and dedication to helping our nation's Veterans stems from her upbringing. Her father is a combat Veteran who served in Vietnam. The early experiences with the VA, along with her father's experiences, lead Jennifer to strive for a career in Social Work and with the VA. She currently works out of the Brick VA clinic four days a week and at the Hamilton VA Clinic one day a week.
Alba Lopez, DSW, LCSW
Alba Lopez, DSW, LCSW, has been employed with The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) for over 15 years and has also worked in the community prior to joining the VA Health Care team. She has served in various capacities at the VA Medical Centers in East Orange and Lyons, including Emergency Room Social Worker, Spinal Cord Injury Coordinator, Traumatic Brain Injury Social Worker, and then as the Coordinator for the Center for Comprehensive End of Life Care (CELC) at VA’s New York Harbor Health-Brooklyn Campus. Most recently Dr. Lopez has served as the Homeless Outreach Coordinator and Intensive Case Management Services Coordinator with VA’s HUD-VASH program. She concurrently served two years as a Mental Health Screener at a county crisis center.
Dr. Lopez graduated from Rutgers University where she completed the Doctoral Program in the Graduate School of Social Work. She is an Army Veteran having served as an Artillery Officer. She is the proud mother of two sons, one of whom is currently on active duty in the Army as a Combat Engineer. He has been deployed twice to Afghanistan.
Janie Meadows, MSA
Janie Meadows has been employed with the VA for 28 years. She has a background in finance, worked on Wall Street, and changed careers to align with her passion for her church and volunteering. Janie is proud of her 3 siblings who served in the Army. Her brother received a Purple Heart for injuries sustained while in Vietnam and her sister retired from service after 20 years. Janie’s career with the VA started in Registration/Eligibility. She went on to work in the ER, organized the startup of the Hackensack CBOC, was the Coordinator for the Pre-Admission Department and was a Supervisor in the Pre-Registration Dept. She later worked in Outreach before coming to the Transition Unit 6 years ago. Janie, with her welcoming smile, is often the first person from the VA to contact new Veterans and is able to quickly enroll them.
Germaine Ogiste, LCSW
Germaine Ogiste received his undergraduate degree in Sociology from St. Peter’s College in 2006. He received his Master’s degree in Social Work from Adelphi University in 2008. While at Adelphi, Germaine completed an internship with the James J. Peters VA Medical Center in Bronx, NY, which ignited his passion for working with Veterans. Germaine was hired by the VA New Jersey Healthcare System in 2014 as a Social Worker in the Lyons Domiciliary and joined the Transition and Care Management team in 2018. From 2010 – 2014, he worked with individuals in correctional facilities as well as assisted those recently released from psychiatric hospitals. He is adept at linking people to needed resources and providing assistance with navigating social service organizations.