By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
CAIRO — State Sen. Michelle Hinchey, D-46, recently announced that funding has been provided to bring the PFC Joseph P. Dwyer Veteran Peer Support Program to Greene County for the first time.
A total of $185,000 has been secured in the Fiscal Year 2023 state budget to bring the program to Greene County, and a total of $7.7 million will expand the program statewide to support veterans across New York, Hinchey said.
Locally, the Dwyer Program will be administered by the Hudson Valley Center for Veteran Reintegration in partnership with the Greene County Veterans Service Agency and the Greene County Department of Mental Health.
“I fought to bring the Joseph P. Dwyer Program to Greene County because this program is a model for veterans’ assistance that saves lives,” Hinchey said. “Our local veterans — no matter what war they served in or what stage they’re at in their transition back into civilian life — deserve to have strong local connections to peer-to-peer support,” Hinchey said.
She continued, “Our veterans have sacrificed everything for us, and it has been my honor to secure this vital program expansion so that Greene County, and communities statewide, have the resources to care for their veterans and work towards eliminating the stigma of veteran mental health at large. Supporting our veterans is some of the most important work we can do as a state, and I’ll never stop fighting to expand veterans’ services and advance legislation that uplifts them and their families.”
The Joseph P. Dwyer Program was created in 2012 in a partnership between the Suffolk County United Veterans Program and the Suffolk Veterans Agency and provides peer-to-peer support for veterans who are transitioning from a life in the military to civilian life while dealing with challenges such as post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury and depression. Assistance is also provided for general reintegration support as veterans return to civilian life.
The program honors the memory of Joseph P. Dwyer, a veteran of the Iraq War and a U.S. Army medic from Mount Sinai, New York, who lost his battle with post-traumatic stress disorder in 2008.
Kevin Keaveny, president of the Hudson Valley Center for Veteran Reintegration, thanked Hinchey and veterans’ advocates who worked to bring the program to Greene County for the first time.
“This program literally saves the lives of veterans and their families and is needed now more than ever as veterans struggle with transitioning to civilian life during the pandemic,” Keaveny said. “This funding will enable us to continue our essential work of outreach and support to serve veterans who have served our country.”
Michelle Romalin Deyo, director of the Greene County Veterans Service Agency, said the program will benefit the county’s veterans.
“We are very grateful to Sen. Hinchey for all of her assistance in obtaining our PFC Joseph P. Dwyer Funding so that we can bring an actual program with peer support services to Greene County veterans, after years of conceptualization,” Romalin Deyo said.
Greene County veterans who would like to join the local chapter of the PFC Joseph P. Dwyer Program can contact program manager Arin VanDemark at email@example.com or by calling 518-719-0020. The program’s office is located at the Greene County office building in Cairo, adjacent to Angelo Canna Town Park.