Veterans Counseling Program for Greene County Expansion | Greene County

CATSKILL – The Pfc. The Joseph P. Dwyer Veterans Support Program was launched nine years ago to enable veterinarians to help their peers in crisis.

The initiative could arrive in Greene County in the near future.

Twenty-five counties in New York, including Columbia, receive a portion of the program’s $ 4.5 million annual state aid, and in a Monday night meeting, the County Services Committee of the Legislature of the Greene County unanimously approved a resolution expressing interest in becoming the 26th county to participate in the Dwyer program.

If the resolution is approved by the entire legislature, the next step would see the county appeal to its state officials through the County Veterans Service Agency to be included in the program.

Kevin Keaveny, president of the Hudson Valley Veterans Reintegration Center, presented to the Legislature on the value of the program. Keaveny said working with the Dwyer organization helped his recovery process after serving on the battlefield.

“I am a veteran and struggled a lot when I returned from Afghanistan in 2010,” he said. “I found my healing process through occupational therapy and had no idea what that word meant when I returned. I am a blue collar worker and have spent most of my life working with my hands. I started building kayaks with veterans and was amazed at the success. The first four participants went on to successful careers and were fully reinstated. “

Gavin Walters, program director for the Dwyer program in Ulster County, said veterans connected with their peers in a welcoming environment is an effective way to help vets facing trauma.

“Within our own struggles we see that for another veteran they see us when we are at our strongest and our weakest,” he told the legislature. “From there, we can encourage each other and we can help each other get to the right place. The first thing we did as part of the Dwyer program last year was walk from Kingston to Albany. It was 56 miles and 22 hours. It was to raise awareness of everything that is happening in the military community with suicide, mental health and homelessness. “

Walters said the group of veterans traveled through Greene County in the middle of the night on their way to the state capital to meet with their representatives.

Keaveny presented to the legislature a 2021-2022 budget proposal for a Dwyer’s Veterans Support program if the program was approved at the highest funding level of $ 185,000 per year.

The proposed spending plan would include $ 107,809 for salaries, $ 13,000 for travel and $ 12,000 for programs and activities.

“Often times we find that we are helping our struggling veterans by building boats or creative writing programs,” Keaveny said. “Sometimes it’s just a matter of walking into the office and having a cup of coffee. A vet will come laugh and joke with us, only to find out several visits later that this guy or girl is about to lose their home or is in crisis with their family. It’s just nuts and bolts, basic stuff. It’s nothing magical, it’s just hard work and dedication.

Greene County Veterans Services Agency director Michelle Romalin Black said the Dwyer program would like to be established in the county before the Christmas season if offices can be found for the group.

Keaveny said the organization had worked for years without public funding and could quickly establish itself in the county, even before public funding was theoretically approved.

During the committee meeting, lawmaker Matthew Luvera, R-Catskill, suggested the program would fit into a new county service building, while Romalin Black said if the Dwyer program was extended to the county of Greene, there would be space available at county mental health offices. .

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