(Hauppauge, NY-October 25, 2012) Today, County Executive Bellone announced the creation of the Suffolk County Military and Veterans Suicide Prevention Taskforce under the auspice of the Suffolk County Veterans Service Agency. While the occurrence of military and veteran suicides has been a matter of national debate for several years there now seems to be an increase of these events occurring locally.
“As Suffolk County endeavors to provide outreach, services, access to programs and other resources and tools for our veterans, we have recently observed an increase in suicide deaths,” said County Executive Bellone. “We have convened a taskforce of highly regarded professionals to join Suffolk County in addressing this issue with the desire to best serve our veterans.”
The goal of the taskforce is to analyze and assess the increased incidences of suicide and arrive at conclusions that will better enable Suffolk County to serve its veterans. The taskforce is charged with identifying paths to overcome obstacles that prevent or delay veterans from identifying and accessing treatments and to provide an opportunity for veterans to be an active part of this process.
It is unfortunate that these tragic circumstances exist, however by convening a group of professionals to address the recent trends, Suffolk County will be in a better position to anticipate, recognize, respond and prevent these incidents from occurring.
Members of the Task Force include:
· Lee Zeldin, NYS Senator, Major US Army Reserves, Iraq Veteran
· Michael Stoltz, Executive Director Clubhouse of Suffolk County and Suffolk County United Veterans
· John Javis, Program Manager Long Island Veterans Health Alliance
· Gaylene Pandolfo, NYS Office of Mental Health, Long Island Field Office
· Ann Vasquez-Kosta, US Dept. of Veterans Affairs, Operation Iraqi Freedom Operation Enduring (Afghanistan) Freedom, Clinical Coordinator, Northport VA Medical Center
· Art Flesher, Suffolk County Department of Health
· Dr. Louis Gallagher, Ph.D., Suffolk County Department of Health
· Erin D’Elleto, Aide to Representative Tom Bishop
· Capt. Lou Delli-Pizzi, NYS Army National Guard, Cmdr., B Co/1st-69th
· Det. Ken Bombace, Suffolk County Police Dept, President, Suffolk Police Veterans Association and Iraq Veteran
· Roland Hampson, Suffolk County Department of Social Services
· Pam Killoran, Suffolk County Department of Labor