A bipartisan push is being made this Veterans Day to provide state funding for a program that offers peer-to-peer services for veterans who are struggling with PTSD and other mental health challenges.
Republican Sen. Sue Serino and Democratic Assemblywoman Didi Barrett on Wednesday called for funding of the Joseph P. Dwyer Veterans Peer Support Program in the budget, which will be proposed at the start of the year by Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Funding has been previously not included in prior spending proposals, leaving it up to negotiation in the state budget talks.
"Vet2Vet saves lives and has proven to be an invaluable resource for countless veterans and their families," Serino said. "New York has the opportunity to be a model for the nation, and I urge Governor Hochul, and my colleagues in the Legislature, to do all we can to commit to helping our heroes by taking the guesswork out of the budget process and ensuring Vet2Vet is consistently funded.”
There are 30 counties and New York City that have the Joseph P. Dwyer Veterans Peer Support Program, which was named in honor of a veteran who ultimately lost his life due to post-traumatic stress disorder. The most recent budget included $5 million for the program.
County shares are relatively modest. In Dutchess County, for example, the program costs $185,000.
“During the years that I have chaired the New York State Assembly Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I have had to fight each budget cycle to ensure funding for the PFC Joseph P. Dwyer Vet2Vet Program remains,” Barrett said. “And while we have managed to secure and increase funding each year, our veterans and their families should know that New York State has their back by putting the critical Dwyer funding in the executive budget."