EAST MEADOW, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- With Veterans Day coming this week, there has been more outreach to help those service men and women struggling with mental health issues, food insecurity and more.
Some Long Island legislators hope to pass new veterans assistance laws during the coronavirus pandemic, CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported Monday.
Marine Corps veteran Steven Rose of East Meadow relies on his black Labrador service dog, Hook, to help him through the emotional turmoil of the pandemic after losing so many veterans to COVID-19.
"You get up and you go to sleep and in between try to make some sense out of what you're doing," Rose said.
The retired school social worker finds comfort in facilitating Vet2Vet Zoom calls with 30 local veterans suffering through post-traumatic stress disorder.
"It's very important that we give our veterans all the laws and services they so richly deserve for what they've done for our country," Nassau County Legislature Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello said.
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Long Island is home to one of the largest veteran populations in the nation. Nassau legislators are now introducing local bills to help in small ways.
"I had a couple of strokes so my legs don't work the way they used to," Air Force veteran Joseph Saccone said.
Saccone would now qualify for disabled veteran discounts at county-run facilities.
"I do have a service-connected disability," Navy vet Sal Polito said. "I don't know where I would have parked, just made a special spot for me."
Another piece of legislation would create veteran-only parking spots at all Nassau-run areas and more food drives for veterans. The demand up 38% during the pandemic.
"That's exceptional because there are so many veterans that I didn't realize until just recently that were using the food banks," Navy veteran Richard DeMartino said.
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Veterans counselors say hotline calls revolve around loneliness, isolation, financial hardship, relationship issues, and substance abuse.
"If you are in need something, please reach out to the Nassau Veteran Service Agency," Nassau County Legislator William Gaylor said.
Vets are encouraging one another to get out of the house.
"Wow, I will bless the day we can actually get back to the work we are really capable of doing," Rose said.
Take that as a daily dose of optimism.
The veteran's office in Nassau County will help arrange free transportation for vets to various Long Island medical facilities.
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