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Nassau PTSD vet counseling program expands

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano (March 19, 2012)

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano (March 19, 2012) (Credit: Howard Schnapp)

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, along with six Long Island state senators, announced Thursday that veterans residing in Nassau will now have access to a state-funded peer counseling program for post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

Suffolk and three other counties around the state started in a pilot program last year that now has been extended and expanded to seven other counties, including Nassau, in the 2013-14 state budget

“I thank our state senators for their commitment to the health and well-being of the roughly 85,000 veterans of all generations living in Nassau County,” Mangano said. “The expansion . . . is a critical resource for our community and continues to demonstrate our commitment to our Hometown Heroes.”

The PFC Joseph Dwyer PTSD Peer-to-Peer Veterans Counseling program is named after a Mount Sinai native who died from a drug overdose in 2008, five years after he was widely publicized in a photograph showing his rescue of a child during combat in Iraq.

“The one message I want to get out to veterans in need is [that] you’re not alone,” said state Sen. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), an Army Reserve major who pushed the legislation. Among the half-dozen senators was GOP Senate leader Dean Skelos of Rockville Centre. The others were Charles Fuschillo Jr. of Merrick, Jack Martins of Mineola, Kemp Hannon of Garden City and Carl Marcellino of Syosset, all Republicans.

Nassau’s program, funded for $185,000, will be run by the Mental Health Association of Nassau County, which already has a small veterans program supported by the county.

“We’ll be up and running as soon as the funding comes through, probably by the fall,” said the association’s executive director, David Nemiroff.

Besides Suffolk, the original counties were Rensselaer, Saratoga and Jefferson.

The new counties, besides Nassau, are Erie, Onondaga, Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester.

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