Advocating for mental health services for veterans, Senator Lee M. Zeldin (R-C-I, Shirley) addressed the Mental Health Association in New York State (MHANYS) and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) at the Association's annual legislative lobby day rally in Albany. The gathering of more than 300 mental health experts, advocates and family members, also included dozens of veterans from Suffolk and Nassau Counties.
Senator Zeldin spoke about the PFC Joseph Dwyer PTSD Peer-to-Peer Veterans Counseling program, a program he helped establish last year in four test counties (Suffolk, Rensselaer, Saratoga and Jefferson) which provides "peer-to-peer" counseling between veterans who personally understand the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
Citing federal Veterans Administration statistics which show that up to 20 percent of Iraq and Afghan war veterans, 10 percent of Gulf War (Desert Storm), and 30 percent of Vietnam veterans experience PTSD, Senator Zeldin called for an immediate expansion of the Dwyer program so that veterans in other regions of the state can receive this service. Specifically, the Senator has proposed expanding the program to Erie, Nassau, Onondaga, Orange, Putnam and Rockland Counties.