County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. was joined today by partner agencies The Neighborhood Center, Inc. and Utica Center for Development, Inc. to launch Oneida County’s Veteran Suicide Prevention Program.
“Our veterans give everything they have to protect this great nation and its citizens,” Picente said. “It is our responsibility to make sure they are taken care of in return. Oneida County is pleased to partner with The Neighborhood Center and the Utica Center for Development to provide our veterans with this suicide prevention program and ensure that they all receive the help they need.”
The Staff Sergeant Parker Gordon Fox Suicide Prevention Grant Program (SSG Fox SPGP) is a community-based outreach and suicide prevention program funded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that is designed to reduce suicide risk and improve well-being for eligible veterans and their families.
Oneida County was awarded the SSG Fox SPGP grant from Veterans Affairs in September 2022, totaling $2.25 million. The funding is issued for three years at $750,000 per year after being awarded a grant renewal. Oneida County secured the first $750,000 and has already applied for a second year of grant funding. Congress has authorized $174 million to be appropriated for the SSG Fox SPGP across the country. More than 240 agencies across the country applied for the grant and Oneida County was one of only 80 chosen.
The program honors Staff Sergeant Parker Gordon Fox, who joined the U.S. Army in 2014 and was a sniper instructor at the infantry school at Ft. Benning, GA. SSG Fox, who was known for a life of generosity and kindness to others in need, died by suicide on July 21, 2020 at the age of 25.
As the SSG Fox SPGP grantee, Oneida County is responsible for coordinating services, and awarded The Neighborhood Center, Inc. and Utica Center for Development, Inc. to be the providers for this program.
“The Neighborhood Center is honored to be involved in developing and assisting with suicide prevention services for veterans alongside Oneida County and Utica Center for Development,” said Sandra Soroka, Executive Director of The Neighborhood Center. “The difficulties often facing many veterans can feel overwhelming, especially if they don’t receive help. Society sees veterans as heroes, which they are. They have made sacrifices for our country and in return we have an obligation to ensure they receive meaningful services to help deal with the complexities of emotions, life changes, difficulties in resuming their pre-service jobs and relationships, as well as treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.”
“Having lost serval friends to suicide, I cannot be thankful enough that we now have a program like this in Oneida County and I am so grateful to everyone at Oneida County that worked so hard to bring this grant here,” said Vincent Scalise, Executive Director of Utica Center for Development.
The Oneida County SSG Fox SPGP services include:
- Outreach to identify those at risk of suicide
- Peer support
- Case management
- Education on suicide risk and prevention to families and communities
- VA benefits assistance
- Clinical services for emergency treatment
- Assistance with obtaining and coordinating other benefits provided by the federal government, a state or local government or an eligible entity
- Assistance with emergent needs relating to healthcare services, daily living services, personal financial planning and counseling, transportation services, temporary income support services, fiduciary and representative payee services, legal services to assist the eligible individual with issues that may contribute to the risk of suicide and childcare
- Other services necessary for improving the mental health status and wellbeing and reducing the suicide risk of eligible individuals and their families as VA determines appropriate
“I am incredibly proud of everyone working so diligently to ensure this programs success,” said Ashlee Thompson, Oneida County Commissioner of Mental Health. “It is a much-needed resource that will help numerous people in our area. We are very grateful that we will be able to provide an array of suicide prevention resources to those who have served and are currently serving, as well as their family members. I want to thank our partners, The Neighborhood Center and The Utica Center for Development for their commitment to this program and County Executive Picente for his continued dedication to the veterans of this county.”
To be eligible for SSG Fox SPGP, an individual must meet the program’s requirements, be at risk for suicide and be a resident of Oneida County. To enroll in the program, and for questions about the program, can click here or call 315-601-4662.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, contact the Veterans Crisis Line to receive free, confidential support and crisis intervention available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Dial 988 then Press 1, chat online at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat, or text 838255.