Rep. Zeldin Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Expand PFC Dwyer Program Nationally
WASHINGTON - Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1) introduced the PFC Joseph P. Dwyer Peer Support Program Act (H.R. 1749) cosponsored by Representatives Elise Stefanik (R, NY-21), Kathleen Rice (D, NY-4), Tom Suozzi D, NY-3), Peter King (R, NY-2) and others, which expands nationally the PFC Joseph P. Dwyer Veteran Peer Support Program, or “Dwyer Program,” a peer-to-peer support program for veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
The Dwyer Program was created by Congressman Zeldin during his time serving in the New York State Senate in honor of PFC Joseph Dwyer, a Iraq War veteran from Mount Sinai, NY, 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 successfully expanded to over 20 counties across New York, saving lives while assisting tens thousands of New York veterans battling PTSD and TBI. This year, on top of fully funding the program, the New York State budget increased funding by $300,000.
The PFC Joseph P. Dwyer Peer Support Program Act to expand this successful program nationally has earned the endorsement 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.
Congressman Zeldin said, “Expanding nationally the Dwyer Program, which is currently operating in both Nassau and Suffolk counties, eventually to all states in the U.S., will ensure that every veteran can have access to a peer-to-peer support group. With the VA reporting that an estimated 20 veterans a day commit suicide, this national expansion is long overdue. Time and time again, this program has received broad bipartisan support, and I look forward to continuing to work with my House colleagues across the aisle to advance this bill to ensure all veterans across this great nation receive the proper treatment, care and support that they need and deserve.”
American Legion National Commander Brett P. Reistad said, “On behalf of the nearly 2 million members of The American Legion, I express full support for the national expansion of the PFC Joseph Dwyer Peer-to-Peer Mental Health Program, which will help our nation’s veterans as they transition back into civilian life. This legislation will authorize the VA to make grants available to state and local entities to help them carry out this important mission. We applaud Congressman Zeldin’s leadership in addressing issues that are important to America’s veterans and their families."
Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH) National Commander Douglas Greenlaw said, “Addressing veterans’ mental health needs and ending veterans’ homelessness must be a community effort. MOPH is proud to support Congressman Zeldin’s bills and we commend him for his leadership on these important issues.”