Senator Daphne Jordan highlights legislation and funding for new programs that together would help provide lifesaving mental health services and support to first responders, veterans and law enforcement in New State york
HALFMOON, NY – New York State Senator Daphne Jordan (R, C, I-Halfmoon) today highlighted her legislation that would establish peer support programs for first responders and welcomed the granting of State funding for a new program supporting this objective. Sen. Jordan said that, taken together, adopting the initiatives and providing the funding would represent big wins for New York’s first responders, veterans and law enforcement.
Senator Jordan led the fight to establish peer support programs for first responders — law enforcement, medical, and EMS personnel — and was a long-time champion of the PFC Joseph P. Dwyer veteran counseling program Peer-to-Peer (aka The Dwyer Program), securing $1,290,000 in state funding for the Dwyer Program operating in Columbia, Rensselaer and Saratoga counties respectively. The Dwyer program provides lifesaving counseling and support to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Dwyer program participants receive counseling and support, with the program consistently touted as a bipartisan success with statewide programmatic expansion expected in the final 2022-2023 state budget.
Senator Jordan sponsors Senate Bill S.2559, which would establish Officer Ron Griffith’s Law Enforcement Personnel Peer Support Program for law enforcement, medical and EMS personnel . Senator Jordan’s legislation and the program it creates are named after Ron Griffith, a retired NYPD officer. During his more than two decades of service, Officer Griffith experienced many violent incidents, including serving during the crime wave of the early 1980s. Officer Griffith was also a first responder on 9/11 and his experiences that day and while on search and rescue duty led to the development of cumulative PTSD, which he did not begin to treat until after his retirement in 2004. Officer Griffith eventually participated in stress management classes, and he remembers that it wasn’t until he was able to let off steam that he understood the magnitude of what he was going through. In 2018, Officer Griffith participated in a video series called “Beneath the Vest”, which helped show the invisible costs of service to the public. Building on the success of the Dwyer program, Senator Jordan’s bill provides $10,000,000 in appropriations to support the program that would be subject to appropriation through the annual state budget process.
Senator Jordan is also sponsoring Senate Bill S.2553, which would enact the Healthcare Worker Peer Support Program. Senator Jordan’s legislation is again modeled after the Dwyer program and provides $10,000,000 in funding to support the initiative. In the future, funding would be integrated into the annual state budget process. Senator Jordan’s bill uses proven solutions to mental health issues and, if passed, would provide peace of mind to frontline healthcare workers in the future.
In addition to the legislation she has sponsored, Senator Jordan highlighted the recent announcement by the New York State Office of Mental Health of state funding for a new initiative to strengthen resilience and suicide prevention efforts among veterans and uniformed personnel, including law enforcement, firefighters, emergency services, medical service members, and corrections officers. The new program, CARES UP (Changing the Conversation, Awareness, Resilience, Empower Peers, Skills Building/Suicide Prevention for Uniformed Personnel) was developed by the New York State Office of Mental Health’s Suicide Prevention Center (OMH SPCNY) and was announced on Monday. Funding for veterans agencies, with prizes, includes $210,000 for three veterans-serving organizations, including the Rensselaer County PFC Joseph P. Dwyer Veterans Peer Support Program. The funding will be used to increase participation in a national model program called the End of Service Sponsorship Program (ETS-SP). This program helps military and veterans transition from military to civilian life by connecting them with a local volunteer peer. The program focuses on the first year of post-military life, a period associated with high rates of homelessness, involvement with the criminal justice system, alcohol and substance abuse, unemployment and suicide among veterans. fighters. Using peer-reviewed, evidence-based best practices, ETS sponsors are trained and certified to build relationships and resilience.
Additionally, the state announced Monday that $960,000 has been awarded to 12 uniformed personnel organizations (including fire departments, emergency medical services, law enforcement and corrections) . Grant funding will support resilience and wellness programs, as well as peer-to-peer training for grant sites, with the goal of increasing protective factors and reducing mental health issues faced by the uniformed personnel. Winners include Clifton Park & Halfmoon Emergency Corps, among other entities. OMH has also produced a CARES UP webinar series titled “First Responders Behavioral & Mental Health Wellness: Lessons from the Field” featuring Drew Anderson, Ph.D., FF/EMT, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of New York State to Albany. The videos, available on the SPCNY website, explain why first responders are at increased risk for behavioral and mental health issues. The series helps viewers understand the protective factors that improve behavioral and mental well-being and can help first responders identify those around them who are struggling with mental health issues.
“Providing essential services that support, empower and assist the men and women who protect and serve – our communities, our state and our nation – is vitally important. I led the fight to establish peer support programs to help our first responders who respond to critical crises and face deadly dangers daily. Our heroic first responders and military personnel are among the strongest and bravest individuals in the world. However, even they need extra support to ensure their mental health and personal well-being. The passage of my legislation, coupled with the announced state funding for the new CARES UP program, would represent great victories in meeting the needs of our first responders and veterans. I hope my legislation will be enacted before the end of our legislative session so that we can provide additional support to those who protect and serve,” said Senator Daphne Jordan.