Briella TomassettiAug 10, 2018, 2:24 pmAug 10, 2018, 4:24 pm

Suffolk County hosts information symposium to help veterans

Event aims to provide guidance, resources, on spot assistance

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BRENTWOOD – Suffolk County is reaching out to its veterans through an informative symposium, with the goal to connect them with health care providers, social workers, and substance abuse advocates. More than 30 of veteran-based vendors offered a helping hand, providing guidance, resources, and on the spot assistance for Suffolk County veterans and their families.

The discussion covers a range of sensitive topics, including the opioid crisis, suicide awareness, Narcan training, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

"We realize that a lot of our veterans don't have access to where their centers are … and as a result, we are trying to cover those gaps," Hudson River Health Care member Trevor Cross said.

The symposium, which takes place in Suffolk County for the very first time, is organized in partnership with the Suffolk County Veterans Service Agency, Veterans’ Health Alliance of Long Island, and several other local veterans organizations.

Among those in attendance is Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.

"It’s one of the top things that makes this county such a special place to live because you know veterans service is in your DNA," Bellone said.

The keynote speaker was Tony Szema, a Northwell Health doctor who has personally treated dozens of injured veterans. Szema also researches the impact of burn pits on soldiers and their illnesses and made an emotional speech at the podium.

"Of course, I thank all the veterans here for your service," Szema said.

"This is the provider community's opportunity to get together and learn how to do a better job in serving this remarkably important community," Suffolk County Veterans Services Agency Thomas Ronayne said.

Officials hope that the conversation will, above all, encourage veterans to actively seek help and learn more about all of the services available to them.

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