Government and Politics
August 5, 2022
Rep. Zeldin, Local Officials and Veterans Call for Nationwide Expansion of Dwyer Program
ROCKY POINT, NY - Today, Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1), a U.S. Army veteran, was joined by state and local legislators from Suffolk County, members of his Veterans Advisory Board, and other local veterans and veteran advocates to call for a nationwide expansion of the PFC Joseph P. Dwyer Veteran Peer Support Program, a peer-to-peer support program for veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). The local leaders and veteran advocates gathered in front of the PFC Joseph P. Dwyer statue at Rocky Point Veterans Memorial Square.
Congressman Zeldin’s proposal - H.R. 1476 - the PFC Joseph P. Dwyer Peer Support Program Act, would expand the Dwyer Program nationally and help veterans across the United States receive the care, treatment and support they need and deserve. This bipartisan legislation has nearly 40 cosponsors in the House of Representatives and the backing of 14 veterans advocacy groups.
At a rally on July 21, Congressman Zeldin was attacked and nearly stabbed by David Jakubonis, a veteran who is struggling with mental health issues. Mr. Jakubonis was released on his own recognizance immediately after his initial arrest without any time or effort allowed to deal with his mental health issues. The Dwyer Program’s peer-to-peer support model for veterans has been proven to be effective at preventing tragedy and has helped returning service members throughout New York gain the support they need and thrive.
“The stories of Joseph Dwyer and so many veterans, who sacrificed so much only to come home and continue enduring the trauma they experienced overseas, inspired me to create the PFC Joseph P. Dwyer Veteran Peer Support Program while serving in the State Senate,” said Congressman Zeldin. “I am extremely proud of the program’s success in Suffolk County and throughout New York. I have no doubt that, if expanded nationally, the Dwyer Program would help prevent tragedies caused by the mental wounds of war and serve as an essential and life-saving resource for veterans returning home and their families across the United States. I’m grateful to all the members of my Veterans Advisory Board, local veterans and supporters of the Dwyer Program who came out today to champion this important cause.”
Congressman Zeldin created the Dwyer Program during his time serving in the New York State Senate in honor of PFC Joseph Dwyer, an Iraq War veteran from Mount Sinai, New York, who sadly lost his battle with PTSD. This successful peer-to-peer support model provides a safe, confidential, and educational platform where all veterans are welcome to meet with other veterans in support of each other’s successful transition to post-service life and seeks to build vet-to-vet relationships that enhance positive change through common experiences, learning and personal growth.
Suffolk County served as one of four test counties in New York in 2013, the first year of the program, and since then, the program has expanded statewide, saving lives while assisting tens of thousands of New York veterans battling PTSD and TBI.