Annual Joseph P. Dwyer Veterans and Family Day

pfc Joseph P. Dwyer peer-to-peer

Photos courtesy of Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone’s office

By Glenn Rohrbacker

Local and federal representatives hosted the fourth annual Joseph P. Dwyer Veterans and Family Day of Wellness, which provides a setting for local veterans and their family members dealing with post-service transition issues to participate in wellness related activities and learn about the Joseph P. Dwyer Peer-to-Peer Program.

pfc_joseph_dwyer_annual_wellness“We have no greater obligation than making sure the men and women of our armed forces have the support they need upon returning home and back into civilian life,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “The Joseph P. Dwyer Program has a proven track record of assisting veterans through direct, one-on-one engagement in a comfortable setting so that they can receive the support necessary to make a successful transition.”

pfc_joseph_dwyerThe Joseph  P. Dwyer program was founded four years ago by Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-NY). While serving in the New York State Senate. Zeldin created the peer-to-peer support service for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. It is named in honor of PFC Joseph Dwyer, a service member from Mt. Sinai who was a victim of PTSD after returning home, which eventually took his life.

“Delivering the highest quality of care for our veterans must be a highest priority,” Zeldin said. “The PFC Joseph Dwyer Program is an exceptional model for our veterans with the mental wounds of war and should be replicated nationally.”

The Suffolk County model has now been replicated and administered in 16 counties across New York State. The program offers a confidential, one-on-one peer approach that has captured national attention, and is being considered as a model to expand across the country. Zeldin has proposed legislation (H.R. 897) to take the Dwyer program nationwide, with bipartisan support by the Long Island Congressional Delegation.

The free event served as a chance to provide information and awareness about the program, which is overseen by the Suffolk County Veteran’s Service Agency and is designed to serve veterans, active duty, reserve and National Guard troops suffering from PTSD and other mental illnesses. Veterans serve each other in this program, acting as facilitators for others, in order to have a comforting, familiar setting.

“The circumstances that many of our men and women in the military endure are sometimes beyond comprehension.  Having a program like this to offer the mental and emotional support is a terrific step in re-acclimatizing them back into society and their homes,” said New York State Senator Tom Croci.

Since its inception in 2012, over 10,000 veterans have participated in the Joseph P. Dwyer Program countywide.


Meetings of the Joseph P. Dwyer Peer Support Project will take place weekly as shown below. Enrollment is based on a first-come, first-serve basis and registration may be required before attending certain group meetings.

Brookhaven Memorial Hospital: Wednesdays at 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm

101 Hospital Road Patchogue, NY

Note: At main entrance follow signs for Trailer B

St. Joseph’s College

Veterans Resource Lounge, O’Connor Hall – 155 West Roe Blvd. Patchogue, NY

*This location provides individual outreach for student veterans on campus during the Fall and Spring Semesters on campus.  During intersession and summer, the campus will be utilized as a community resource.

Beacon House: Tuesdays at 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

1715 Union Blvd. Bay Shore, NY

Sag Harbor: Tuesdays at 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Burkeshire Court – 3330 Noyac Road, Bldg. D Sag Harbor, NY

The Vets Place: Tuesday at 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

32 Mill Road Yaphank, NY

Brookhaven Vets Chat: Rose Caracappa Senior Center: Senior group meetings held on the second Thursday of each month from 10:00 am – 11:00 am

739 Route 25A Mt. Siani, NY

Participants include veterans that have served in World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War, and “peacetime” veterans.

Liberty Village: Mondays at 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

600 Albany Avenue Amityville, NY

THRIVE Recovery Center: Meetings on Fridays 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

1324 Motor Parkway Suite 102 in Hauppauge, NY

For more information on the PFC Joseph P. Dwyer Peer-to-Peer support Program, residents can contact the Suffolk County Department of Health Services’ Division of Community Mental Hygiene Services at or by phone at (631) 853-8500.

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