Nassau is gearing up to help hundreds of returning U.S. veterans, many of whom are not using the services available to them, County Executive Edward Mangano said.
"A lot of these men and women don't know what is available, can't bring themselves to ask for help, or, sometimes, don't even know they need such services," Mangano said in an interview last week.
"While their service to our nation cannot be repaid, the county . . . [and its partners] offer a variety of free services to our hometown heroes -- services they deserve," Mangano said.
Mangano said the Nassau Veterans Services Agency will help veterans find employment or housing and apply for financial, educational or disability benefits.
Nassau also is working with the federal Department of Veterans Affairs, the Mental Health Association of Nassau County and the Veterans Health Alliance of Long Island "to help returning soldiers suffering from PTSD, depression or other disorders to re-establish themselves back into civilian life," Mangano said.
The county will hold a jobs and support services fair for veterans next month at Nassau Community College, and also will send "welcome home" packages of service information to veterans expected to return to Nassau.
Suffolk, which has a battery of veterans programs, held its first veterans and service members jobs fair earlier this year and, "because of its success," plans a second one in May, said Vanessa Baird-Streeter, spokeswoman for County Executive Steve Bellone.
Precise numbers of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans were not available. Some 4,500 of them -- 1,700 from Nassau and 2,800 from Suffolk -- currently are obtaining services at the Northport VA Medical Center, according to the VA.
Those seeking information about veterans services in Nassau may call 516-572-6565 or 631-853-8387 in Suffolk.