FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Mercy College and Putnam County Partner to Form Leadership Alliance

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MaryEllen Odell
Putnam County Executive
(845) 808-1001

Media Contact
Catherine Cioffi
Associate Director
Public Relations
Office (914) 674-7736
Cell (914) 954-5579
CCioffi3@Mercy.edu

Mercy College and Putnam County Partner to Form Leadership Alliance

 

Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. – August 20, 2013-  Mercy College and Putnam County, NY have partnered to form The Leadership Alliance, which provides educational programs for Putnam County leaders.  The Leadership Alliance is open to leaders in county government, municipal departments, school districts and private businesses, and will be taught by former leaders from the private and public sectors who are now professors at Mercy College.     

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell, and Mercy College School of Business Dean Dr. Ed Weis, will host a kick-off reception and press conference on Thursday, August 22 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Putnam County Golf Course, 187 Hill Street, Mahopac, NY where details of the program will be announced. 

The Leadership Alliance will get underway with two programs. First, Mercy College will offer a 12-month program, starting in October 2013, where students will earn a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership focused on Emergency Management and Security.  As part of the program Mercy College professors will assist Putnam County leaders in developing the County’s Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan (MJHMP).  The MJHMP will identify risk, develop mitigation plans, preparedness plans and response plans.

Second, in January 2014, Mercy College will begin offering a Certificate Program in Corporate and Homeland Security to Putnam County community leaders.  The program will provide 15 undergraduate credits toward a bachelor’s degree.  The Certificate Program will run concurrently with the master’s degree program and will also be integrated with the Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan.

Dr. Weis says, “This is a wonderful opportunity for leaders in Putnam County to collaborate with our faculty of former business and community leaders to tackle some of the county’s challenging issues.”

Odell says, “My administration is looking to the future. This public-private partnership with Mercy College is an unprecedented opportunity. As I promised, we are bringing higher education to Putnam County. We are excited about the high level of interest expressed so far in these programs.  In this day in age, disaster preparedness skills are essential. The training being offered will insure we have a critically trained team of first responders in place. We are thrilled to be able to offer an in-house means for Putnam County leaders to further educate themselves within our borders.”

Courses will begin on Wednesday, October 2, 2013 at the Putnam County Emergency Services Training and Operations Center in Carmel.

About Mercy College
Founded in 1950, Mercy College is a private, not-for-profit higher education institution that offers more than 90 undergraduate and graduate programs within five prestigious schools: Business, Education, Health and Natural Sciences, Liberal Arts and Social and Behavioral Sciences. Mercy College offers an engaging and personalized learning experience that includes the College’s revolutionary Personalized Achievement Contract (PACT) program. The Mercy College PACT is the first program of its kind and now serves as a nationally recognized model for mentoring.  www.mercy.edu/ 877-MERCY-GO.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Mahopac Man Honors Wife by Hosting Breast Cancer Benefit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MaryEllen Odell
Putnam County Executive
(845) 808-1001 

August 08, 2013

Mahopac Man Honors Wife by Hosting Breast Cancer Benefit

A Mahopac resident and several other members of the Westchester Chapter of Iron Order Motorcycle Club will host the first annual Breast Cancer Benefit and Motorcycle Run on Saturday, August 24 starting at noon at the Claddagh Bar & Grill, 925 Route 6 in Mahopac, NY.

Among those to be honored is Manny Leggio’s wife, Daniella, who lost her battle against breast cancer last February.

“We all know someone who has been affected by this terrible disease. For me, it was my wife. But it might be someone else’s mother, aunt or sister,” said Leggio. “Holding an event like this, it’s the only thing we, the survivors, can do.”

Iron Order’s President Michael Cavaluzzi has also been affected by the disease. He lost his wife, sister and mother to breast cancer.

“The Westchester Chapter is honoring close family members of our organization that have been victims of this disease and we are joining in the battle to fight against breast cancer,” he said.

Odell is no stranger to fundraising motorcycle rides and has participated in several this summer.

“This is just another example of the generosity and support that the ‘bike’ community offers when they see someone in need,” Odell said. “I was lucky enough to participate in the ride for the Blythesdale Children’s Hospital as well as the Purple Heart ride, both benefitting terrific causes.” 

A relatively new member of the Iron Order club, Leggio said he had been a longtime motorcycle enthusiast and was first introduced to the club by a friend a few years ago. 

“I hung out with the club a couple of times,” he said. “They were just a great bunch of guys. This was like Boy Scouts for men.”

When Leggio learned the Iron Order wanted to open a Westchester County branch, he “just went with it.” 

Leggio now serves as the chapter’s vice-president and feels quite at home among the membership, many of whom are, as Leggio is, in law enforcement. Leggio works as a narcotics detective in the New York Police Department. But the club, he said, has plenty of non-law enforcement members as well.

“We are a law enforcement support group but we have military and retired and just plain, old  regular Joe’s,” he said.

The Iron Order spends a great deal of its time fundraising for various projects, something Leggio learned as he became more familiar with the group.

“I would be willing to bet that motorcycle clubs raise more funds for various causes than are donated by major corporations,” he said. 

Saturday’s fundraiser will consist of a 30-mile motorcycle run up Rte 6 to Rte 301 and over to Rte 9A by the Bear Mountain Bridge. There they will turn around and retrace their ride back to the Claddagh where Two Fisted Law and The Hat City Ramblers are donating their musical talents for the entire event. 

For the price of $20 per person or $30 per couple, attendees can enjoy free food and a cash bar. Vendors will be present selling such things as T-shirts and jewelry, while tattoo and piercing artists will be available to do their thing. And don’t forget the Coors Light Girls. They’ll be there, too. 

“But 100 percent of the funds raised will go to fight breast cancer,” Leggio said.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Odell, Mercy College Dean Partner Form Leadership Alliance

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MaryEllen Odell
Putnam County Executive
(845) 808-1001 

August 19, 2013

Odell, Mercy College Dean Partner Form Leadership Alliance

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell and Dr. Ed Weis, Dean of the Mercy College School of Business have invited key stakeholders from government and municipal departments, school districts and private businesses to participate in a Leadership Alliance, a partnership between Putnam County and Mercy College designed to improve the area’s collective ability to prepare for and respond to significant hazardous events.

Odell and Weis will host a kick-off reception and press conference on Thursday, August 22 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Putnam County Golf Course, 187 Hill Street, Mahopac, NY where they will announce their collaborative measure and offer a high level overview of the innovative program.

The Leadership Alliance is a pilot program where a representative from each of the 20 key stakeholders will participate. The end result of this 12-month program will be that each representative will earn a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership focused on Emergency Management and Security.

“The County’s purpose in partnering with Mercy College in this manner is to provide the region with a critically trained team of first responders who already know each other and each other’s organizations and can design and facilitate a smooth and well-defined approach to responding to an event, be it man-made or one dealt by Mother Nature such as last year’s Hurricane Sandy,” said Odell.

The objective and work product of this endeavor will assist in the development of Putnam County’s Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan (MJHMP).

Odell said the MJHMP process will include identifying risk, developing mitigation plans and establishing preparedness and response plans. She said having this sort of plan in place in the near future can open the way for grant funding opportunities later. 

“The development and filing of this plan with the state and federal government is a requirement for certain grant funding opportunities for organizations within the region,” Odell said.  

Courses will begin on Wednesday, October 2, 2013 at the Putnam County Emergency Services Training and Operations Center in Carmel.

Now, as Dean of the Business Program at Mercy’s School of Business, Dr. Weis enjoys having a blank canvas upon which he can “try to create an optimal business education for students” where they can learn business from leaders in their field by doing business with other leaders in the profession. 

The course will be managed by Dr. Matthew Miraglia, a highly decorated former police detective and member of New York State Zone 3 Counter Terrorism Intelligence Task Force where he served as a Field Intelligence Officer. Dr. Miraglia is presently the Director of the Corporate and Homeland Security Program at Mercy College’s School of Business.  He and his team of subject matter experts from Mercy College and industry will be participating in teaching the class and guiding the development of the MJHMP.

Dr. Weis also announced that Mercy College and Putnam County will offer a new Certificate Program.

“Beginning in January 2014, Mercy College and Putnam County will be offering a Certificate Program in Corporate and Homeland Security,” he said. “This program will provide 15 undergraduate credits toward a Bachelor’s degree.”

By design, the Certificate Program will run concurrently with the Master’s degree program and interact with that offering accordingly in order to develop the MJHMP. It is anticipated that the Certificate Program will include approximately 20 participants and involve additional key stakeholders.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Odell Urges Residents to Attend Memorial Event

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

MaryEllen Odell
Putnam County Executive
(845) 808-1001

August 19, 2013

Odell Urges Residents to Attend Memorial Event

The American Cancer Society will host a dinner to honor the memory of long time volunteer Marilyn K. Bruen on Wednesday, August 28 starting at 6 p.m. The event was the brainchild of her children and grandchildren and will be held at McGrath’s Tavern, 146 E. Main St (Rte 22), in Pawling, NY where Marilyn’s grandson Tommy Stevens is a chef.

“Although physically challenged, Marilyn Bruen spent her life working for and giving to others through her many volunteer efforts. The American Cancer Society was at the top of her list and she worked tirelessly on their behalf for decades,” said Odell. “I certainly hope the many friends she left behind will support this wonderful memorial event her family has planned.” 

Marilyn passed away at age 80 on Sept. 18, 2011. She served as the Crusade Chairperson for the Putnam County Unit of the ACS and was known for her boundless energy and determination to raise funds to help those battling cancer and to support efforts to find cures for the disease that took her mother’s life and, eventually, her own.

Tickets for the event are $100 per person and may be purchased by calling Peggy Bruen at (845) 270-2400 or by calling McGrath;s Tavern at (845) 855-0800. All proceeds will benefit the American Cancer Society.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: VOB Film Festival

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 12, 2013
Please contact Stacy Dumont, 845-729-9687, Stacy@thebowlcompany.com

Brewster, NY—The VOB International 3-Day Film Festival announces an exciting lineup of events for Labor Day Weekend. This year’s expanded film festival showcases feature-length films, shorts, and documentaries hailing from all over the US, Canada, Australia, Germany, Mexico, Cuba, and Dubai, as well as Putnam County. Genres represented include drama, comedy, sci-fi/fantasy, thriller, historical drama, and animation.   

The Festival kicks off on Friday, August 30 with Dinner and a Movie. The opening night celebration starts at 6pm with a gala reception in honor of this year’s filmmakers. Tickets are available for $35, which includes an intimate dinner in the historic Walter Brewster House at 43 Oak St. , followed by the New York premiere of Cloudburst, a comedy-drama by Thom Fitzgerald that stars Academy Award winners Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker. Cloudburst will be screened in the Studio Around the Corner at 67 Main St. (the rear entrance of Old Town Hall) at 8pm. Tickets for the film screening only are $5.

On Saturday, August 31, filmgoers can experience a taste of local flavor at the Food and Short Film Festival. The Food Festival, sponsored by the Brewster Chamber of Commerce, begins at 4pm on Oak St. and will be accompanied by live music courtesy of the Second Saturday Band and State of Being . The Short Film Festival begins at 8pm on the lawn of the Walter Brewster House and is free to attend. Filmgoers are encouraged to bring their own chairs and blankets and enjoy the buttered popcorn.

Raindate for the Short Film Festival only is Sunday, 9/1, at 8pm. All other events will take place rain or shine.

On Sunday, September 1, the Studio Around the Corner hosts its first ever all-day film extravaganza from 9am to 10pm. Feature films and shorts will show in five time blocks with an admission fee of $2 for the first session and $5 for all later sessions. Food will be available for purchase, and attendees will also discover local restaurants, musicians and artists outside the Studio.    

Off-street parking will be available all weekend at the Studio Around the Corner in the Gold Lot,at the former Garden Street School at 20 Garden St , and on Main Street . This event is made possible, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the NY State Legislature and with public funds from Putnam County .  These grant programs are managed and monitored by the Putnam Arts Council.

For tickets and additional information including this year’s film lineup, please visit www.VOBFilmFestival.com, or call 845-729-9687.

Odell, Vets Attend First Purple Heart Parade

MaryEllen Odell
Putnam County Executive
(845) 808-1001 

August 13, 2013

Odell, Vets Attend First Purple Heart Parade
MOPH Commander Speaks of New Mission  

Peekskill’s North Division Street was lined with onlookers during the first annual Military Order of the Purple Heart Parade which was held on Saturday, August 10, 2013.  The parade was organized by the City of Peekskill, American Legion Hawthorne Post 112, and members of NYS Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) Chapter 21.

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell and MOPH Chapter 21 Commander Neil Gross were among the dignitaries invited to attend the event. Odell presented Grand Marshal Sgt. Gary Beikirch with a proclamation thanking him for his service to his country and his fellow man.

“Participating in this event meant a lot to me,” said Odell. “Every one of the Purple Heart recipients is a true hero. It was an honor for me to meet Sgt. Beikirch and to present to him a proclamation on behalf of the people of Putnam County.” 

In her proclamation, Odell recounted Beikirch’s “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty” while serving as a U. S. Army Special Forces medic. It was at Camp Dak Seang in the Republic of Vietnam on April 1, 1970 that Beikirch risked his life several times to save his wounded comrades and was wounded himself. A three-time Purple Heart recipient, Beikirch also received a Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award.

For Gross, also Vietnam Veteran, attending the parade was akin to a long overdue homecoming. 

“Forty years ago we were not welcomed home,” Gross said. “We were shunned and spit upon as our country and our fellow countrymen turned their backs on us.”

For today’s military veterans, it’s a different story and Gross and his fellow veterans are determined to bring a happier ending to the newest generation of veterans returning from war. 

“Today, we feel welcomed and part of our country. We also feel we have a new mission. That mission is to insure that all our young men and women in uniform all around the world are cared for and protected.”

Gross said today’s veterans, many of whom are afflicted by combat-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), suffer greatly.

“They suffer from homelessness, unemployment, drug abuse, alcoholism, spousal abuse, child abuse – all stemming from combat-related PTSD and multiple tours of duty that tear their homes and lives apart,” Gross said.

Various veteran organizations have begun to focus on the plight of today’s veterans. They include the American Legion, the DAV, the Vietnam Veterans of America, the MOPH and others.

“They are all dedicated to insuring that we never forget the sacrifices our men and women are making everyday. We must help America remember always that freedom is not free. That is the message we must convey to our children and our children’s children,” Gross said.  

081313 MEO with PH Parade Dignitaries 

PHOTO CAPTION:  Dignitaries gathered to greet Purple Heart Parade Grand Marshal Sgt. Gary Beikirch at Saturday’s event. From L to R are: Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell, Beikirch, MOPH Chapter 21 Commander Neil Gross, veteran Al Kotash, and Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.

081013 MEO, Galef, Peekskill Councilwoman Marybeth Mcgowan, Mayor Mary Foster, Sgt. Gary Beikirch

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Mahopac Man Honors Wife by Hosting Breast Cancer Benefit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MaryEllen Odell
Putnam County Executive
(845) 808-1001 

August 13, 2013

Mahopac Man Honors Wife by Hosting Breast Cancer Benefit

A Mahopac resident and member of the Westchester Chapter of Iron Order Motorcycle Club will host the first annual Breast Cancer Benefit and Motorcycle Run on Saturday, August 24 starting at noon at the Claddagh Bar & Grill, 925 Route 6 in Mahopac, NY.

The event is to honor Manny Leggio’s wife, Daniella, who lost her battle against breast cancer last February.

“We all know someone who has been affected by this terrible disease. For me, it was my wife. But it might be someone else’s mother, aunt or sister,” said Leggio. “Holding an event like this, it’s the only thing we, the survivors, can do.”

Odell is no stranger to fundraising motorcycle rides and has participated in several this summer.

“This is just another example of the generosity and support that the ‘bike’ community offers when they see someone in need,” Odell said. “I was lucky enough to participate in the ride for the Blythesdale Children’s Hospital as well as the Purple Heart ride, both benefitting terrific causes.” 

A relatively new member of the Iron Order club, Leggio said he had been a longtime motorcycle enthusiast and was first introduced to the club by a friend a few years ago. 

“I hung out with the club a couple of times,” he said. “They were just a great bunch of guys. This was like Boy Scouts for men.”

When Leggio learned the Iron Order wanted to open a Westchester County branch, he “just went with it.” 

Leggio now serves as the chapter’s vice-president and feels quite at home among the membership, many of whom are, as Leggio is, in law enforcement. Leggio works as a narcotics detective in the New York Police Department. But the club, he said, has plenty of non-law enforcement members as well.

“We are a law enforcement support group but we have military and retired and just plain, old  regular Joe’s,” he said.

The Iron Order spends a great deal of its time fundraising for various projects, something Leggio learned as he became more familiar with the group.

“I would be willing to bet that motorcycle clubs raise more funds for various causes than are donated by major corporations,” he said. 

Saturday’s fundraiser will consist of a 30-mile motorcycle run up Rte 6 to Rte 301 and over to Rte 9A by the Bear Mountain Bridge. There they will turn around and retrace their ride back to the Claddagh where Two Fisted Law and The Hat City Ramblers are donating their musical talents for the entire event. 

For the price of $20 per person or $30 per couple, attendees can enjoy free food and a cash bar. Vendors will be present selling such things as T-shirts and jewelry, while tattoo and piercing artists will be available to do their thing. And don’t forget the Coors Light Girls. They’ll be there, too. 

“But 100 percent of the funds raised will go to fight breast cancer,” Leggio said. 

Iron Order flyer

Iron Order BW flyer

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: County Announces Brewster Selected as Opportunity Area

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MaryEllen Odell
Putnam County Executive
(845) 808-1001

Meghan Taylor, President
Economic Development Corporation
(845) 808-1021

August 2, 2013

County Announces Brewster Selected as Opportunity Area

The Village of Brewster was chosen by the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council (MHREDC) as an “Opportunity Area” and as such, will have the help of the Council in implementing their goals for overcoming “chronic unemployment and underemployment while raising the community through economic revitalization.”

Brewster’s selection was announced by County Executive MaryEllen Odell and Putnam’s Economic Development Corporation President Meghan Taylor today.

“This is wonderful news,” said Odell. “The Village of Brewster was in competition with several other villages in our region. Being chosen as an Opportunity Area will go a long way in helping Brewster village officials reach their goals to revitalize the Main Street area.”

“I was quite optimistic that Brewster would be selected,” said Taylor. “It was a good fit. The Village certainly met the Council’s criteria for its applicants. I really am very excited about the direction in which Brewster is heading. Being chosen as an Opportunity Area is going to help their revitalization process along quite nicely.” 

Taylor was instrumental in guiding Brewster officials through the paperwork as they gathered in mid-July to begin the application process. In order to qualify as an Opportunity Area, village officials had to show Brewster met MHREDC requirements of geographic size, population, poverty rates and low home ownership levels.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo initiated the “Opportunity Area” program during his 2013 State of the State Address when he charged the State’s 10 Regional Economic Development Councils with the task of developing an Opportunity Agenda whose purpose would be to focus on the challenges preventing distressed communities from fully participating in the State’s economic revitalization efforts.

While being designated an Opportunity Area does not come with a promise of increased funding from the State, Taylor explained that it does enhance Brewster’s standing when applying for other funding initiatives. 

“Being designated as an Opportunity Area will give Brewster an edge over other applicants when applying for grants and other forms of funding,” said Taylor. “The MHREDC has put an initial stamp of approval on the Village. They see it for the great potential it has,” she said. 

The Village now must develop their implementation plan. In devising this plan, Brewster leaders will need to assure the MHREDC that their strategies focus on the organization’s twin goals of moving people from poverty to employment and demonstrating how revitalization within the community will occur.

In return, the MHREDC will assist Village leaders in identifying impediments to their goals and assist them in their search for additional grants and State funding in order to reach those goals.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Odell Participates in Purple Heart Tribute Ride

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MaryEllen Odell
Putnam County Executive
(845) 808-1001

August 5, 2013

Odell Participates in Purple Heart Tribute Ride
Hall Redo to Give Equal Space to All Branches of Service 

Approximately 100 motorcyclists gathered in Newburgh at the Motorcyclepedia Museum for the start of the first annual Purple Heart Tribute Ride on Saturday, August 3, a fundraiser for the Enhancement & Expansion Campaign for the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor which is located in New Windsor, NY.

Participating in the ride was County Executive MaryEllen Odell, pictured above with (from left to right) Purple Heart Hall of Honor Executive Director Andy Komonchak, Sen. Bill Larkin (R-C, Cornwall-on-Hudson), Odell, and USMA Master Sgt Mary Kay Messenger. Komonchak presented the Senator with a “Rolling Thunder” motorcycle vest shortly before the start of the ride.

A lifelong admirer of those who have served their country and open supporter of the Hall of Fame, Odell sought and received a proclamation from the County Legislature on April 3 designating Putnam as New York’s first Purple Heart County.

“It is always a pleasure for me to be involved with the wonderful Purple Heart Hall of Fame advocates,” Odell said. “Honoring the recipients of this medal is their mission, something everyone who enjoys the freedoms of being an American should do.” 

Prior to their thunderous start, Komonchak addressed the motorcycle riding participants.

“Your ride will ensure that our Purple Heart Veterans’ stories will be preserved for posterity with the respect and reverence they deserve,” he said.

Komonchak later stated in an e-mail it occurred to him as he looked out at the riders that many of them had been soldiers who endured monsoon rains in Vietnam and horrible cold in Korea and severe winter conditions in WWII.

“A little rain wouldn’t stop them from riding for those they left behind,” he said.   

The motorcycle enthusiasts drove from the museum past the Hall of Fame and on to the FDR Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park. There a floral replica of the medal was placed at the Franklin D. Roosevelt monument to honor all those who were wounded or killed in action in World War II. It was President Roosevelt, who in 1942, made the medal available to all service branches.

The Purple Heart is the oldest military decoration in present use. It was initially created by Gen. George Washington in 1782 as the Badge of Military Merit. It is awarded to any member of the Unites States Armed Services wounded or killed in combat with a declared enemy of the United States.  It is known among living recipients as a medal respected by all, wanted by none.

By description, the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor is the Congressionally designated resting place of the stories and records of the more than 1.8 million men and women who earned the Purple Heart while in the service of their country. This is in addition to the 55,621 service men and women who have earned the Purple Heart in the current War on Terror.

In his e-mail, Komonchak told of the unique impact the Hall of Fame has on the veterans who visit, some on a regular basis. 

“It’s not just a place for those who earned our nation’s oldest military award – it’s a home for all veterans in every branch of the military, their families and loved ones. It also serves as a living reminder of the costs of war to the citizens of this great country,” he said. “The Hall is a conduit to healing for those who have locked away their wartime memories. It’s a space where they can feel safe and secure whether that involves interacting with another veteran or as an individual with the Hall itself. We have individuals who visit frequently to just sit and surround themselves with the presence of their buddies who fell with them.”

Fundraising to redesign the Hall is a necessity due to a lack of equal service branch representation in the original plans. The Board of Directors has initiated a plan to rectify this shortcoming and need to raise funding for the project.

“Visitors to the Hall need visual representations to remind them of the sacrifices of all branches of service,” said Komonchak. “The Hall and these precious data will stand as a living monument to these courageous veterans and will educate and inspire Americans of all ages for generations to come.”

For more information on the Purple Heart Hall of Fame, visit, www.purpleheartinc.com

Purple Heart Ride of Honor
PHOTO CAPTION: Left to right:  Purple Heart Executive Director Andy Komonchak, Senator Bill Larkin, Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell, United States Military Academy Master Sgt. Mary Kay Messenger (off-duty). Photo by Denis Castelli.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Peer-to-Peer Veteran Program Comes to Putnam

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

MaryEllen Odell
Putnam County Executive
(845) 808-1001

August 1, 2013                          

Peer-to-Peer Veteran Program Comes to Putnam

Suffolk County Peer to Peer Program Director Timothy Strobel was among several guest speakers at a press conference held this morning at the Spain Cornerstone Park in Carmel as it was announced that the Pfc. Joseph Dwyer Veterans Peer-to-Peer Program would open in Putnam. 

The program is named for an Army private who committed suicide in 2008 and is run for veterans by veterans. The program provides “peer-to-peer” counseling between veterans who personally understand the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

Federal Veterans Administration statistics show that as many as 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, 10 percent of Gulf War and 30 percent of Vietnam veterans experience PTSD.

“We are vets helping vets,” Strobel said. “We offer the opportunity for veterans to come together in support of each other, to listen and benefit from each other’s experience with service-related issues – everything from getting back into civilian life, to returning to school, or civilian jobs, or family life, and also obtaining VA services,” he said.

Strobel explained that while every deployment is different, there is one constant: The camaraderie that comes from a shared experience of life in the military. 

“Whether we served in the jungles of Vietnam, the deserts of Iraq, the mountains of Afghanistan, or on a ship at sea, we are the few who understand what it is like,” he said. 

The weekly Peer to Peer support groups are confidential and most meetings are informal. No fees are charged, no records are kept and there are no reporting requirements by counselors. Strobel said his Suffolk County support groups meet weekly but at various locations at varying times on varying days of the week.

“Anonymity is the key to the program’s success,” said Strobel.

County Executive MaryEllen Odell said she is looking forward to having a support group such as this available for Putnam’s veterans.

“It is vital that we have a program like this so our veterans can learn to understand just what PTSD and TBI are and can do,” she said. “Working with their peers who have the shared experience of dealing with these disorders will undoubtedly aide our veterans in their recovery.”  

Director of Veteran Services Karl Rhode attended the gathering and is also very much in favor of having the program available in Putnam County.

“Peer-to-peer counseling for veterans is a vital tool to help them help themselves,” said Rohde. “It is exciting that Putnam will now be able to implement such an important program to help our veterans and their families cope with the invisible wounds of war.”

Funding for the program was obtained by Sen. Greg Ball (R,C,I-Patterson) chairman of the Senate Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committee through the NYS Office of Mental Health. Putnam will receive $185,000 and the program will be administered by the county’s Mental Health and Veterans departments. 

“This great program will positively impact countless lives,” he said. “With the rising number of returning veterans suffering from ailments like TBI and PTSD, we must do everything in our power to give our returning troops the services and programs they need.”

Since its inception in last year’s NYS budget, the program has been operating successfully in the four test counties: Suffolk, Rensselaer, Saratoga and Jefferson. Seven additional counties will now receive funding for the program. They include Putnam, Westchester, Nassau, Erie, Onondaga, Orange and Rockland.

080113 Peer to Peer Comes to Putnam  Ronayne Strobel Rohde 

CAPTION: L to R: Suffolk County Veterans Service Agency Director Thomas Ronayne, Suffolk County Peer to Peer Program Director Timothy Strobel and Putnam County’s Director of Veteran Services Karl Rohde met at Cornerstone Park on Thursday, Aug. 1 to announce that the Pfc. Joseph P. Dwyer Veterans Peer Support Project is coming to Putnam County.