Vets Helping Vets, A Promising Strategy for PTSD

Dr. Eric Hardiman to further evaluate successes and barriers

Veteran in a wheelchairThe treatment and support for veterans returning to civilian life with primarily physical injuries is challenging but relatively straightforward. Much harder to identify and support are veterans with invisible wounds from trauma, known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD.) Alarming numbers of those suffering PTSD are unemployed, isolated, homeless or suicidal.

New and innovative support interventions for veterans facing such challenges have been developed through the Joseph P. Dwyer Peer-to-Peer Veterans Program, begun in 2012 and currently serving veterans in eleven counties in New York state.

Peer-to-peer programs have been found to be a promising strategy for dealing with PTSD, especially those who have experienced combat. The shared experience of veterans fosters the initial trust and credibility necessary for individuals needing help to open up and discuss their problems. Peer services represent a potentially rich source of outreach strategies for connecting with more difficult-to-reach veterans as well as an opportunity to provide social connections, assess potential need for referral, and evaluate risk of depression and/or suicide.
To evaluate program successes and barriers of these Peer-to-Peer programs, Associate Professor Dr. Eric Hardiman has been awarded a grant from the New York State Office of Mental Health. He and his research team are using a mixed method evaluation design to improve the quality of programs for the benefit of soldiers who have answered the call to service and now need support and treatment.

Dr. Hardiman and Veteran Joel Abelove, the Director of Peer Services at the Rensselaer County Heroes at Home program, were interviewed by Kathryn Zox on The Social Workers Radio Talk Show, WCDB 90.9 FM.Listen to the show which aired on March 6, 2014. The show is also available on YouTube.

For more information about the Joseph P. Dwyer Peer-to-Peer Veterans Program, contact Dr. Hardiman at or (518) 442-5705.