The Program is named in honor of Joseph P. Dwyer, a US Army Medic in the Iraq War who, in the earliest days of the invasion in 2003, was pictured cradling a wounded boy while his unit was fighting its way up the Euphrates to Baghdad. PFC Dwyer’s post-war struggles with Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) resulted in his untimely and tragic death in 2008.
The Joseph P. Dwyer Program was created by then-New York State Senator, Lee Zeldin, now a congressman representing New York State’s 1st District. Zeldin served four years in the Army active duty, having been deployed in 2006 to Tikrit, Iraq. Beginning in 2012, the Program now offers peer-to-peer counseling for Veterans suffering from PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury and any Veteran looking to reintegrate into civilian society. It began in Suffolk County and quickly expanded to almost half the counties in the state.
The Dwyer Program provides non-clinical support by Veterans to Veterans. Many Veterans are often reluctant to speak with anyone who is unable to understand the mental and physical challenges they face daily. Trained to keep doubts and vulnerabilities to themselves, Veterans are hesitant to discuss issues such as mental health, relationships with family and friends, and barriers to regain sustainability. This can lead to a destructive and devastating journey when arriving back home; including substance use, domestic violence, sexual assault, homelessness, chronic unemployment, and suicide.
Support Veterans are trained in military behavioral health and they personally understand the effects of PTSD, TBI and the challenges of reintegrating into civilian society.
The Dwyer Program is available to all Veterans, members of the Armed Forces, National Guard, Army Reserve, and their families. All are welcome regardless of service dates, discharge status or dependency status. The Program is free and confidential.