On 18th Anniversary of Iconic Dwyer Photo, Rep. Zeldin Continues Call for Support of Critical Dwyer Program | Congressman Lee Zeldin

On 18th Anniversary of Iconic Dwyer Photo, Rep. Zeldin Continues Call for Support of Critical Dwyer Program

March 25, 2021
Press Release

dwyer photo
PFC Joseph P. Dwyer rescues an Iraqi boy who was injured during a heavy battle between U.S. and Iraqi forces in 2003. Warren Zinn/Courtesy of Army Times

PATCHOGUE, NY - Today, Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1) continued his call for support of the PFC Joseph P. Dwyer Veteran Peer Support Program on the anniversary of the iconic photo of its namesake, PFC Joseph P. Dwyer of Mount Sinai, rescuing an Iraqi boy in 2003. 

The Dwyer Program was created by Congressman Zeldin during his time serving in the New York State Senate in honor of PFC Dwyer. 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 successfully expanded to over 25 counties across New York, saving lives while assisting tens of thousands of New York veterans battling PTSD and TBI. 

Yesterday, Congressman Zeldin and the New York State Senate Republican Conference called on Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature to fully fund the Dwyer Program, which has been zeroed out in the Governor’s proposed budget every year. Yesterday’s call was also in favor of a more timely release of the funding and making it a permanent part of the state budget. 

Watch Congressman Zeldin’s remarks in Albany here

In Congress, Congressman Zeldin has introduced legislation to expand the Dwyer Program nationally, which has garnered the support of the American Legion, Military-Veterans Advocacy, Blinded Veterans Association, Military Order of the Purple Heart, American Ex-Prisoners of War, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Catholic War Veterans, and NYC Veterans Alliance.

“18 years ago, in 2003, this iconic photo of PFC Joseph P. Dwyer was taken during his deployment to Iraq,” said Congressman Zeldin. “He returned home to his family seemingly in one piece, but he came home with the mental wounds of war. In 2008, he lost his battle with PTSD, and with 20 veterans taking their own life each day, his story is one that is all too common. This peer-to-peer support model has saved the lives of countless New York veterans. This program needs nothing less than Albany’s full support, and veterans all across our nation have earned nothing less than full access to this critical resource.” 

Robert Carrazzo of Smithtown said, “I was struggling with both substance use and abuse and thoughts of self harm as well as a suicide attempt. The Dwyer program and those involved helped me battle all this and now I’m over 5 years sober, have a family, two degrees, and a new career.” 

Danielle Koulermos of Northport said, “I was a single mom who was furloughed and attending grad school online, which was taxing on my mental health. The Dwyer Program grew into a sisterhood of support and guidance geared towards the needs of us as female veterans.”