Queens program honors recovering military veterans

Queens program honors recovering military veterans
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for Samaritan Daytop Village’s Ed Thompson Veteran’s Program in Richmond Hill.
Gerold Picard & Shellbair Foto

Military veterans who are recovering from addiction were recognized and honored for their service and sacrifice at a ceremony held by the Samaritan Daytop Village, where they were joined by the New York Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services and community members.

The May 31 ceremony took place at Samaritan Daytop Village’s Ed Thompson Veterans Program, located at 130-15 89th Road in Richmond Hill — which has undergone a $7.5 million renovation funded by OASAS. With more than 50 facilities in 10 counties throughout the state serving 28,000 New Yorkers a year, Samaritan Daytop Village is widely recognized as a pioneer in specialized treatment services for military veterans, including and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and substance abuse.

“Today, we honor our veterans who, after serving bravely, now fight as civilians a new battle against PTSD and substance use disorder,” said Tino Hernandez, president and CEO of Samaritan Daytop Village. “Samaritan Daytop Village and the Ed Thompson Veterans Program proudly count ourselves among their staunchest allies and supporters, and we work with them to help them overcome their personal struggles and challenges.”

Hernandez said that every seven hours, someone dies of a drug overdose in New York City, and within that context, veterans are twice as likely as non-veterans to die from accidental opioid overdoses.

“Providing substance use disorder care for veterans presents a unique set of challenges, and we owe it to them to do everything we can to meet the needs of those seeking that care,” said Arlene Gonzalez-Sanchez, OASAS commissioner.

The Ed Thompson Veterans Program is a residential treatment facility for men, according to Sheila Greene, a spokeswoman for Samaritan Daytop Village. The length of stay for veterans battling opioid and alcohol addiction varies on the needs of each person, but the average stay is from six to seven months.

Programs and services offered include group and individual counseling, relapse prevention counseling, trauma-specific therapies, primary and mental health care, vocational and employment services, family intervention, veteran benefits counseling, housing assistance and aftercare service.

The center was named in honor of the National Guard and Korean War Army veteran, the late Sergeant Ed Thompson, who inspired Samaritan Daytop Village’s programs to assist veterans. After his honorable discharge, Thompson suffered from PTSD and addiction issues. He sought treatment and then began a post-military career at Samaritan Daytop Village as a program director, and advocate for those recovering from addiction.

The newly renovated 50-year-old facility is updated with current codes, two top floors of dormitory space, a client lounge, quiet/reading room, outdoor basketball court, outdoor grilling/seating area, and ADA-compliant ramps and an elevator.

More from Around New York