OAKDALE, NY – 7/2/2014 According to the Veteran Affairs report released in March 2014, there are currently 13,909 veterans on Long Island diagnosed with some form of PTSD that served during Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.
It has become apparent within the local veteran’s community, that the recent multimedia coverage of the increased tensions in Iraq and other Taliban infected areas has triggered a widespread reaction from the OEF/OIF/OND veterans resulting in the interruption of daily functioning on various levels. This interruption seems to be ranging from increased feelings of anger and frustration to full blown PTSD symptoms necessitating additional support and treatment.
On July 2nd, 2014 from 6p-9p, Dowling College’s Veteran’s Affairs and Health Services Department teamed up with the Veteran’s Health Alliance of Long Island and the PFC Joseph Dwyer Peer Support Program to provide a forum to discuss and address this issue directly with our Long Island veteran community. Dowling graduate and OIF veteran, Steven Stryska and Vietnam Veteran Steven Dreyer spoke to the group about their experiences in combat and how they found recent events were affecting them. The discussion was then opened up to the group to provide an opportunity to talk about their perspective on how current events are affecting them.
Professor Brian Stipelman, Associate Professor of Political Science at Dowling College and Denis Demers from the PFC Joseph Dwyer Peer Support Program co- facilitated the forum, held at Dowling College in the Fortunoff Hall Ballroom. John Javis, director of the Veteran’s Health Alliance of Long Island closed out the forum with a motivational message of how to go forward in a more positive manner, reminding our veterans that they achieved their objectives within their role and they did them well. He encouraged them to go forward in life with the same determination and pride.
Approximately 38 veterans from the Vietnam War Era through the current Persian Gulf Era were in attendance, as well as family members of veterans and mental health providers. The goal of opening up a candid dialogue about this issue, while providing support, resources and education to our local veterans was achieved.
Denise Ingenito, LCSW/Director of Counseling, Health and Wellness for Dowling College
Donald Blankenship/Veteran’s Affairs Specialist for Dowling College