FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Putnam County Executive
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.
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.