North Country assemblyman calling for 'immediate restoration' of veterans' services
Friday, February 21, 2020 - 5:20 pm

Assemblyman Mark Walczyk (R-Watertown) is calling for the "immediate restoration" of what Walczyk says is Gov. Cuomo’s planned $5.68 million cuts to veterans’ services.

According to Walczyk, Cuomo’s proposed 2020-2021 Executive Budget takes aim at initiatives that range from helping soldiers manage PTSD and mental health challenges, to enabling veterans to find job-training and successful careers, to improving access to VA services and quality health care. The largest cut proposed, according to Walczyk’s statement, is more than $4 million from a counseling program that allows veterans to connect with other men and women who have served in the Armed Forces and are facing challenges similar to their own. That is the “wildly-successful” Joseph P. Dwyer Veteran Peer-to-Peer Program, the statement says.

“What matters most is not how we treat our soldiers when they’re overseas, but how we care for them when they come home. I’ve seen firsthand the impact the Joseph P. Dwyer program is having within our community. This funding needs to be restored and I’ll fight hard for it.”

Among some of the other veteran-related programs facing funding cuts are:

Helmets-to-Hardhats: $200,000—Assists post-9/11 veterans’ transition into careers in the building trades.

Clear Path for Veterans: $200,000—Access to resources and programs including professional skills and training development, peer and wingman services and K-9 therapy programs.

NYS Defenders Association Veterans Defense Program: $500,000—Training, legal assistance and support for representation of veterans and service members involved in the criminal or family court systems.

SAGE Veterans Project: $100,000—Aadvocates and offers services that help lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender older adults who are veterans of military service improve their access to the VA and other veteran services, as well as support their overall health and wellness.

Walczyk is a first-term state legislator who represents the “River District,” the 116th, including all St. Lawrence County towns along the St. Lawrence River (Massena, Ogdensburg, Louisville, Waddington, Lisbon, Oswegatchie, Morristown, and Hammond) plus the towns of Canton, Potsdam, Rossie, Macomb, and DePeyster, and part of Jefferson County.