Today, Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay and Assemblyman Jake Ashby, Ranking Minority Member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee and an Army veteran, announced the “No Surrender” Veteran Initiative: Making PTSD a Priority, a series of roundtable events to address the pervasive issue of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) facing veterans, as well as law enforcement, health care and emergency service personnel.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed flaws in the state’s health care system, and individuals coping with anxiety, depression and PTSD have felt the brunt of these shortfalls. As such, the Assembly Minority Conference will host a number of events around the state to address this growing problem and advocate for the allocation of adequate resources for mental health care.
“Too often, our brave service members and frontline emergency workers serve the public interest at the expense of their own wellbeing. In doing so, these incredible individuals endure unimaginable trauma and stress that have a lasting impact,” said Leader Barclay (R,C,I-Pulaski). “Our roundtable events aim to explore better treatment options and find ways to easily connect individuals dealing with these traumas with the resources they need. In order to solve this problem, we must first address it openly and hear from those with firsthand experiences.”
The “No Surrender” Veteran Initiative aims to grow support and momentum for legislation calling for the Division of Veterans’ Affairs to be made into its own independent state agency (A.3725, Ashby), as well as legislation requiring the Office of Mental Health to conduct a study related to using therapeutic PTSD techniques (A.8377, Giglio, JM).
“There have been an alarming number of cases in which individuals exposed to high-stress, life-or-death scenarios are experiencing lingering mental health issues. Without proper support and treatment, these individuals will be at a substantial disadvantage to deal with these challenges moving forward,” said Assemblyman Ashby (R,C,I-Castleton). “We must do everything in our power to give those suffering from PTSD the care they need. After all they have done for us, they deserve every resource we can provide.”
Additionally, Conference members have proposed several other pieces of legislation seeking to address mental health and further support veterans, first responders and health care professionals, including:
- A.3501, Ashby – Establishes a peer-to-peer mental-health support program modeled after the successful Joseph P. Dwyer Program for frontline health care workers; provides confidential, peer-to-peer assistance for individuals struggling with depression, anxiety, or PTSD.
- A.04646, Ashby – Allows first responders who are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder to request line of duty sick leave.
- A.03585, Ashby – Relates to establishing a green alert system for missing military members.
- A.04999, Ashby – Establishes the “New York’s Own Combat Veterans Health Care Choice Program Act” to establish tax-free savings accounts to pay the health care costs of certain combat veterans until covered by the federal government.
- A.03783, Norris – Establishes the New York state volunteer fire protection emergency reimbursement account.
- A.5103, Reilly – Requires the office of mental health, office of alcoholism and substance abuse services, and the department of education to create a behavioral health website which shall provide information on various behavioral health issues such as depression, eating disorders, anxiety, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder.
- A.03506, Hawley – Relates to a leave of absence for military spouses.
- A.05793, Palmesano – Enacts the “Omnibus Emergency Services Volunteer Incentive Act” to provide certain benefits to volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers.
- A.04846, Miller, B. – Creates a veterans’ clearinghouse for purposes of identifying veterans eligible for benefits.
- A.03782, DeStefano – Designates certain emergency and public safety dispatchers and operators as first responders.
- A.07483, Ra – Relates to capital costs of construction, improvement, rehabilitation, or reconstruction of facilities owned by veterans’ organizations; allows for state grants to be used for VFWs, American Legion Posts, etc.
The “No Surrender” Veteran Initiative events will be hosted around the state, with dates and locations to be announced shortly.