LOCAL HISTORIC PROFILE: Margaret Cochran Corbin, Revolutionary War heroine

Illustration by Sabina Mollot

By Sabina Mollot

Last December, Manhattan Congress members announced legislation aimed at renaming the Manhattan VA Medical Center after Margaret Cochran Corbin, who fought in the Revolutionary War and was the first woman to receive a veteran’s pension.

While the fate of the East 23rd Street hospital’s name is still up in the air, the legislation is expected to be reintroduced in Congress this year.

Corbin is remembered for her bravery during an attack by the British and Hessians  (German troops hired by the British) on Fort Washington in Upper Manhattan on November 16, 1776.

Her involvement in the military began when her husband John enlisted in the Continental Army’s First Company of Pennsylvania Artillery. Corbin, then 25, joined him. Working alongside the soldiers was what many wives and sweethearts did at the time and were tasked with things like cooking, washing and sewing. But when John was killed in the battle at Fort Washington at the cannon he’d taken over for the gunner who’d also been killed, his wife was standing at his side. Not stopping to grieve, Corbin quickly took John’s place, loading and firing the cannon as she had seen him do. Then suddenly, she too was struck by a grapeshot, a cluster of metal balls in a sack that had been fired from a cannon. Seeing her fall, other soldiers carried Corbin away to where the wounded were being tended. The Revolutionaries ended up losing this battle and the survivors were taken prisoner, including Corbin. However, they were released.

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VA taking aim at veteran suicides

Suicide prevention coordinator Kate Mostkoff and clinical psychologist Mia Ihm, PhD, at the Manhattan VA (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

From January 22-25, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been engaging in a nationwide suicide prevention effort, with the various facilities, including Manhattan VA on East 23rd Street, hoping to reach out to veterans who wouldn’t normally show up at their doors.

This is because 20 veterans die by suicide each day and out of those 20, 14 haven’t been seeking services at the VA.

Meanwhile, the VA has developed the most comprehensive suicide prevention program in the entire country, according to suicide prevention coordinator Kate Mostkoff and Mia Ihm, PhD, a clinical psychologist, who both work at the Manhattan hospital. A VA system-wide veterans crisis line gets hundreds of calls each day, with on average two or three of those calls being routed to the Manhattan VA on weekdays, and even more on weekends. This makes the Manhattan campus one of the busier recipients of such calls and the hospital is required to respond to those calls within 24 hours. The line, staffed by veterans and family members, can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 (Press 1).

When responding to callers, it’s usually recommended that the caller follow up to determine if the problem is PTSD related. “Sometimes a hospital stay is required,” said Mostkoff, “usually brief” at a mental health outpatient clinic for common problems such as substance abuse, anxiety or depression.

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VA Medical Center could be re-named after woman war hero

Margaret Corbin took her husband’s place at the battle of Fort Washington in Manhattan after he was fatally wounded.

By Sabina Mollot

On Friday, Manhattan Congress members announced legislation to rename the Manhattan VA Medical Center after Margaret Corbin, a Revolutionary War hero.

Corbin fought alongside the Revolutionary Army and was the first woman to be recognized for her military service by the United States. With this bill, the facility would be renamed to the “Margaret Cochran Corbin Campus of the New York Harbor Health Care System.”

When asked about the bill, a spokesperson for the Manhattan VA, located at East 23rd Street between First Avenue and Asser Levy Place, said it would be premature to comment.

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Veterans Day Parade celebrates end of WWI

Photos by Sabina Mollot

By Sabina Mollot

On Sunday, around 25,000 veterans, active military personnel and their supporters marched up Fifth Avenue from 23rd Street for New York City’s annual Veterans Day Parade.

The city’s parade, which is the largest in the country, this year celebrated the centennial of the end of World War I, with the army the featured branch of the military.

Prior to the march, speakers mentioned how that war presented a number of firsts, including women joining the ranks. Additionally, one tenth of the military during what was then known as “The Great War” or “The World War” were residents of New York State, half of those New Yorkers from the city.

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Women veterans told their brain injuries were just stress

Navy veteran Bridget Dolan said the misdiagnosing of traumatic brain injuries is common, in particular for women. (Photos by Photos by Hannah La Folette Ryan/VA Medical Center)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Navy veteran Bridget Dolan reached her breaking point when yet another doctor asked how her personal life was going after she ended up in the emergency room for vertigo and dizziness, all while dealing with a headache that never went away.

“I just laughed and said I couldn’t believe I was going through this again,” she said.

Dolan said she felt like she was walking around with a constant hangover after getting multiple concussions both during and before her Navy training. But none of the doctors over the last 22 years had picked up on the fact that she had suffered a traumatic brain injury until a doctor in the Veterans Affairs Medical Center told her to walk in a straight line with her eyes closed and she couldn’t.

“It was just a simple test that cost the VA no money,” she said. “That’s when I finally had somebody believe me.”

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