ALBANY – Assemblywoman Didi Barrett (D-Hudson), chairwoman of the State Assembly Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, has announced that $4.5 million allocated for the highly effective Joseph P. Dwyer Peer-to-Peer Support Program has been released to counties participating in the program.
“The Joseph P. Dwyer Peer-to-Peer Support Program serves, literally, as a lifeline for veterans’ across the state,” said Barrett. “As chair of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, getting this funding to our county veterans’ services organizations has been a top priority of mine. With the support from a bipartisan coalition of colleagues, I am pleased to see this funding has finally been released.”
The Dwyer program provides funding on a county by county basis to be used for peer-to-peer programming for veterans of all ages. Counties have flexibility to create a program that works to address their veteran population’s specific needs by setting up programming through their veteran service office or a local non-profit veterans’ organization.
While Dwyer is not a clinical mental health program, it has been very effective in creating important connections for returning veterans – whether it is finding a safe space to heal, discussing shared experiences with other veterans, or fostering a social network to rejoin the community.
The funding approved in last year’s state budget for the Dwyer Program had previously been withheld by the state due to the COVID-19 pandemic; many organizations participating in the peer support system continued to offer services even as they waited to receive the funds. With the release of this funding, the program will expand its reach into 25 counties.
Barrett has been advocating for the continued expansion of the program to encompass more veterans.