Thanking Those Who Have Gone the Extra Mile

veterans-day-imageOn this Veterans Day, we recognize all Vets for their service to protecting our country in peacetime and in conflict. I want to especially recognize those Veterans — such as those who work or volunteer as part of our agency’s staff and board — who have extended themselves beyond their service experiences to help others and our communities.

At the Statewide Dwyer Project conference last month, the keynoter was young Army Veteran, Andrew O’Brien, of Texas, who shared that his volunteering for service was not about patriotism but about finding a sense of purpose for himself following a childhood of horrid abuse and neglect. However, after a challenging combat experience in Iraq, while still in the service, his journey included an attempt to take his own life.

After returning to, and completing, a distinguished service career, Andrew later founded the Wysh Project (www.wyshproject.org) not only to help end Veterans suicide, but building on his own experiences, to help everyone who has past experience from trauma from any source move “from trauma to triumph.”

Responding to Andrew’s talk, one recovering Dwyer Vet asserted: “We are not broken. We are strong. We saw and participated in stuff we expected but weren’t fully prepared for. We are injured, but because of our strength we can take ownership of a helping role in helping others overcome injuries and help build community.”

As we thank our Vets today for their service in uniform, let’s also thank so many who have gone the extra mile to help enrich our communities as places of caring, hope, and opportunity for all people who face adversities.

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Michael Stoltz has been at the agency’s leadership helm since 1990, first as Executive Director of the predecessor organization, Clubhouse of Suffolk, and since July 2014, the CEO of the Association for Mental Health and Wellness (MHAW). MHAW is the result of the merger of Clubhouse with Suffolk County United Veterans and the Mental Health Association in Suffolk County.                                                                                                                                             Under Michael’s stewardship, the agency has grown to one with an $10 million annual operating budget, 150 employees, servicing more than 3,000 people each year through its Ronkonkoma, Riverhead, and Yaphank facilities.                                                                                                                                               A social worker by training, Michael received his MSW in 1982 from Adelphi University, where he has served as an Adjunct Professor teaching Social Welfare Policy and Human Service Management. He served as a Program Supervisor, developing and implementing the Suffolk County Intensive Case Management Program, as well as positions in management and direct service at several Long Island outpatient clinics.

Posted in Dwyer Project, Healing, Joseph P. Dwyer Veterans Peer Support Project, PTSD, Suicide

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