Eisenhower Park was a sea of red, white and blue on Sept. 14.
It was a sea of veterans. The crowd ranged from 103-year-old Paul Zadoff, who sang “God Bless America,” to young men and women who had recently returned home from overseas. All gathered for the Nassau County Veterans Picnic Resource Fair.
The attendees were welcomed by Ralph Esposito, director of the Nassau County Veterans Service Agency, and County Executive Bruce Blakeman, and they enjoyed the weather with a picnic and a performance by a patriotic trio called the American Bombshells.
“This is a little token of our gratitude to all those veterans who live here in Nassau County who contributed so much — you are the foundation of this county,” Blakeman said. “We will be forever grateful to each and every one of you.”
The event’s main attraction was the dozens of vendors from across Long Island who came to let the veterans know about all the benefits and services that available to them.
Equine therapy is well known among physical and occupational therapy patients — but relatively few veterans are aware of the benefits of making a connection with a horse. Pal-O-Mine Equestrian, based in Islandia, shared information on its services with the attendees. Its mission, according to its website, is “to provide a comprehensive therapeutic equine program using horses to facilitate growth, learning and healing.”
In Pal-O-Mine’s Fall-In-Friday program, veterans and first responders can learn horsemanship skills such as brushing and walking the horses. No matter the physical impairment, there are opportunities to take part, in a riding-free environment. Equine Assisted Psychotherapy is also available to all veterans and service members.
Pal-O-Mine also has programs for family members, caregivers and military spouses. It gives them, free of charge, a place to unwind and the chance to have a moment of peaceful connection with these animals. To learn more, visit Pal-O-Mine.org.
Veterans can find comfort and connection with dogs and cats, courtesy of Paws of War. Many veterans have service animals, but for many others, having a pet is more burden than benefit. The range of services offered by Paws of War are meant to turn the tables and make pets a source of comfort and support rather than stress.
It offers service dog training, companion-animal adoption and training, animal rescue for deployed military, a no-cost mobile vet clinic, lifetime care for retired military working dogs, emergency fostering for veterans, and housing assistance for veterans with pets.
Hundreds of dogs and cats have been rescued overseas by U.S. troops and brought home to safety. And hundreds of service and support dogs have been saved from kill shelters to be united with veterans. Got to PawsOfWar.org for more information.
Female veterans need access to specialized services to enrich their lives and support them into the next chapter of those lives.
RosaMaria Williamson, a licensed clinical social worker and Women’s Veterans Program manager with Women Veterans Health Services, told the Herald that the need for women’s services is crucial, especially because many female veterans are decades younger than their male counterparts.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Women Veterans Health Care also fills a need many women veterans may not expect to have. Treatment related to military sexual trauma, post-mastectomy needs, gynecologic and fertility treatment, LGBTQ+ health, environmental exposure, wellness and mental health services are all offered by the agency.
Another unexpected resource provided by the VA is a podcast. Sponsored by the Office of Women’s Health in the Veterans Health Administration, “She Wears the Boots” is geared toward the growing and diversifying community of women’s veterans and their needs.
“Women veterans are a growing and diverse group — professionals, mothers, retirees — of varying ages, racial and ethnic backgrounds, gender identities, and sexual orientations,” the podcast description states. “In this podcast we highlight how the VA partners with women veterans in their health by interviewing experts from the VA on numerous topics representing a broad range of VA programs.”
The podcast is available on every major streaming service.
The Women Veterans Call Center is open with phone, texting and online chat services weekdays from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET, and weekends from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. ET. Go to WomensHealth.va.gov, for more information.