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Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin pushes program to help veterans with PTSD

U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) urges House members to support his bill to expand a popular peer-to-peer mental health program for veterans with PTSD.
Courtesy U.S. House of Representatives
U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.)

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), who is running for New York governor, has renewed his efforts to expand a popular peer-to-peer veteran support group that started in Suffolk County.

The PFC Joseph Dwyer Peer Support Program uses therapies like fly fishing and horse-training to help veterans in New York who experience post traumatic stress or brain injuries. Zeldin urged his colleagues this week to support a House bill that would bring the program to veterans across the country, saying veterans urgently need the help.

“The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that approximately 20 veterans per day take their own life, often times plagued with post traumatic stress disorder, and traumatic brain injury,” Zeldin said on the House floor.

He said the Dwyer program has saved lives. It’s named after PFC Joseph Dwyer from Mt. Sinai, who served in the Iraq War and died in 2008.

The bill already has bipartisan support, and has been endorsed by more than 14 veteran advocacy organizations including Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and the Wounded Warrior Project.

Zeldin, a veteran of the Iraq War, first launched the program in 2012 when he was a state Senator and it has since expanded to more than two dozen more counties.

Desiree reports on the lives of military service members, veterans, and their families for WSHU as part of the American Homefront project. Born and raised in Connecticut, she now calls Long Island home.