On June 28, 2008, Private First Class Joseph P. Dwyer, a combat medic and a veteran of the Iraq War died as a result of an inhaled sedative, which he used to self-medicate his diagnosis of PTSD and depression. Although the Veterans Administration and friends and family tried to help treat his PTSD, Dwyer could not be saved from his "inner demons" and he lost the valiant fight.
Finding Funding for Our Program
Lobbying with veterans groups and with acquired input from friends and family of Joseph then-New York State Senator and veteran Lee M. Zeldin (NY R-Third District) help to introduce legislation creating grants and funding for the Joseph P. Dwyer Veterans Outreach Program of New York.
Expanding Our Reach
The first four counties in New York, were Rensselaer, Jefferson, Suffolk, and Saratoga in 2012. In 2013, seven additional counties were added including Putnam, Westchester, Nassau, Erie, Onondaga, Orange, and Rockland, and four more were added in 2014, then one more was added in 2015 bringing the total to 16 counties in New York as of this date. Today, the putnam county program is run by Iraq war veteran John Bourges, who started working as a coordinator and peer-to-peer ambassador.
Open to any Putnam County veteran of any era, Joseph P. Dwyer Veterans Outreach Program of Putnam County connects veterans who have experienced and overcome post-service social and emotional challenges including PTSD, TBI, substance abuse, and other illnesses. It is our goal with this program to utilize that unique relationship from one vet to another to help foster a relationship and direct the veteran to any services they may need.