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  • Sunday, January 22, 2023

    Dept. Puts Focus on Suicide Prevention; Awards $115,000 to Groups

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    Department Commander David R. Riley Sr. announces effort to stem veteran suicides and homelessness. At right is Department Adjutant James W. Casey.

    ALBANY — Committed to reducing veteran suicide and homelessness, the New York State American Legion is awarding two grants totaling $115,000 to organizations helping veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or who are at risk of homelessness. American Legion Department of New York Commander David R. Riley Sr. announced the awards Jan. 21 during the Legion’s Mid-Winter Conference in Albany.

    He also announced that the American Legion was bringing its “Be the One” suicide-prevention campaign to Legion Posts across the state. “If each Legion member is able to ‘be the one’ to reach out and help one veteran suffering from depression or other signs of post-traumatic stress, we’ll have a dramatic impact on the number of veterans taking their own lives,” Riley noted. He said the Legion wants to train members how to spot and talk to veterans exhibiting signs of PTSD.

    Last July the American Legion Department of New York unveiled a $1.5 million fund for grants to address veteran suicide and homelessness. The latest grants are:

    — $100,000 to the EquiCenter in Honeoye Falls, NY, to provide equine-assisted therapies for veterans.

    — $15,000 to the Western New York Veterans Housing Coalition in Buffalo to help outfit apartments for veterans.

    “The $100,000 grant will bolster EquiCenter’s capacity to help veterans, providing all services free of charge,” Riley noted. “Many of the veterans are dealing with devastating physical and emotional effects of combat. Equine-assisted therapies help them overcome those symptoms of PTSD. As EquiCenter describes it, physical contact and communication with the horse and the rhythmic movement can restore confidence and an appreciation of oneself. This addresses physical and emotional imbalances in a gentle, self-guided manner – ultimately leading to healing and a successful transition from military service to civilian life.”

    The Western New York Housing Coalition is providing new apartments for 26 veterans who are homeless or at risk of being homeless, Riley said. “The $15,000 grant will provide new beds, bedding and other supplies for those apartments,” he noted. “In addition, the Housing Coalition provides case management for the veterans, including employment counseling, medical and psychosocial referrals, legal aid, and other services, with the key goal of homeless prevention.”

    The initial grants included the following:

    — $100,000 to fund a pilot project to expand and measure the RTM ProtocolTM treatment for veterans suffering from PTSD, developed by the Research and Recognition Project in Corning.

    — $34,450 to outfit a home for homeless women veterans with children, operated by Veterans & Community Housing Coalition in Saratoga County.

    — $24,000 to the Albany Housing Coalition to furnish six newly rehabilitated apartments for homeless veterans.

    — $36,000 to Hoboken Legion Post 107 in New Jersey to furnish eighteen new apartments being planned for homeless veterans. They accept any homeless vet whether from NY or NJ.