“To assist Veterans, service members, and their families to achieve and sustain personal health, wellness, and purpose in their post-service lives through the support of trained veteran peers.”
What we do:
The Dwyer Project is in its 5th year of serving Veterans, service members and their families with post-service transitional issues to include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).
We strive to ensure that every person engaged in our project has an opportunity to unite the peer support process whether in group or through individual peer mentorship, to develop and implement a wellness strategy while transitioning into the civilian community.
All Dwyer Project activities and services are free of charge to veterans on Long Island of all eras. By leveraging military cultural values of trust, respect, perseverance and self-reliance we facilitate successful reintegration by engaging other veterans who have shared experiences. Impact in the community has resulted in reduction of hospitalizations, sustained families, secured gainful employment, prevented homelessness, promoted daily wellness and educated the civilian community as to the needs of our veterans.
We believe that all people deserve the opportunity to fundamentally change their lives for the better and that all people can get out of the feeling of isolation.
During his service in Iraq, Joseph P. Dwyer – who enlisted in the Army just two days after 9-11 – attracted nationwide recognition for a photograph showing him cradling a wounded Iraqi boy while his unit was engaged in battle in Baghdad. The iconic photograph, taken by Army Times photographer Warren Zinn, ran front page in newspapers and on television news broadcasts across the country. While the photo turned Dwyer into an instant “hero,” his life changed dramatically when he returned home. Dwyer fought a wrenching battle against a powerful new foe: PTSD. Tragically, he died in 2008, leaving behind a wife and young daughter.
The Dwyer Project was initially launched in the counties of Suffolk, Jefferson, Saratoga and Rensselaer at the initiative of then-New York State Senator, now U.S. Congressman, Lee Zeldin. The program has since expanded into eleven other New York counties including Nassau. Thanks to the Dwyer Project’s early success, Congressman Zeldin recently introduced national legislation that would provide funds to state and local governments to conduct peer-to-peer programs across the country. The goal is to build on the success we have seen here in Suffolk County and expand it nationally.
Veterans deserve the best available resources and treatment. The goal is to ensure that every Veteran across America – no matter when they served and no matter what their discharge status – has access to peer support. The Joseph P. Dwyer Veterans Peer Support Program is helping to make that happen.
Marcelle Leis, CMSgt (Ret), USAF/ANG, Program Director
John Schultz, USMC, Project Coordinator
Nancy Tappin, Administrative Support Specialist
Joseph P. Dwyer Veterans Peer Support Project