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The Army allows River Hospital to continue treating soldiers with PTSD... for now

Destoinie Cormier
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Supporters and elected officials reached out to Army officals to show support for the River Hospital's Community Wellness Program after news of its impending closing spread.

State Sen. Patty Ritchie has secured 185 thousand dollars in funding to treat troops and veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Part of the money will go towards a program at Alexandria Bay’s River Hospital that treats Fort Drum soldiers.

The announcement comes just days after the hospital was given the ok to continue the program.

The River Hospital’s Community Wellness program was in danger of shutting its doors last month. The Army had decided to move all PTSD treatment programs back onto bases across the country.

River Hospital’s CEO Ben Moore says after the news broke, he sat down with elected officials like Ritchie and Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Willsboro).

“I think all of that brought it to a conclusion that this was a good program. That the realization was that we actually had a higher level of care than the Army was planning to have on post,” Moore says.

Moore says writing and art classes, group therapy and yoga are some of the methods the hospital uses that makes it unique. River Hospital has treated 250 soldiers since 2012.

Late last week, the Army revised its decision. Fort Drum would be allowed to continue sending soldiers to River Hospital.

Moore says the recent surge of support for the program has left him a little less worried.

“I think actually the soldiers themselves made the case for us in how they expressed what they felt about the program so I think that realization on the part of everyone certainly bodes well for our future.”

The funding secured by Ritchie will be split between the River Hospital's Community Wellness Program and Watertown’s VETS Peer to Peer Outreach Center.