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Saranac Lake plans to open new veteran treatment center - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Saranac Lake plans to open new veteran treatment center

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SARANAC LAKE, N.Y. - A new veteran treatment center opens soon in Saranac Lake. It's the first long-term care facility for veterans in the North Country.

Steven Bowman is a U.S. Air Force veteran. He retired in 1994, and now works to help others.

"Make sure our veterans are cared for. Whether it be the World War II veteran or the young veteran who's coming home from Iraq or Afghanistan now," said Bowman.

There are recent cases of veterans needing help and not getting it. A current scandal in the federal government's Department of Veterans Affairs revealed long waiting lists for vets seeking care, some even passed away while waiting.

And veterans in our region suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Australian solider Paul McKay took his own life in Saranac Lake and Kryn Miner of Essex Junction, Vermont, was shot by his child after threatening his family.

"PTSD and the struggles they've had in their life to be able to acclimate to life after coming back from being on their tour of duties in Afghanistan or wherever they've been deployed to. So it's a very sad story in regards to the limited services those individuals received," said Bryan Amell from St. Joseph's Addiction Treatment and Recovery Center.

New York State is funding $3 million for a new program at Saint Joseph's in Saranac Lake to help veterans.

"Important we have those capabilities whether it's VA or not. Even if it's local, doesn't matter. The more you have the better," said Bowman.

According to Saint Joseph's, more than 80,000 veterans in New York State suffer from PTSD. Symptoms of PTSD include depression, drug and alcohol abuse. The new program at Saint Joe's will help veterans deal with those issues.

"Suicide prevention is a key focus for everyone who works for veterans. It's an appalling number, I think 22 veterans a day take their lives, which is just tragic," said Michelle Beaudoin.

The new center will house 25 veterans suffering from PTSD and substance abuse up to one year. The closest VA medical center is in Albany but now North Country veterans seeking care have a place closer to home.

"Many of your veterans that need that psychological care are not going to jump in a car and drive three hours away. They need something that is more immediate and more local," said Bowman.

St. Joseph's projects an opening of the new facility in the coming weeks.

St. Joseph's will be inviting numerous dignitaries to the opening, among them Gov. Andrew Cuomo, R-New York, who pushed for state veteran care.

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