Every month WPDH honors another Hudson Valley vet by sharing the story of their service and contribution to the community.

This month's Vet Who Rocks is Daniel Santiago. The Hudson Valley vet was nominated by Kelly Rushford, who wrote us the following letter about Daniel's story:

I have known Daniel most of my life and he is the bravest person I know. He enlisted prior to 9/11 and when our country changed he ended up doing three long tours in the Middle East. He also spent a year in Korea. He dedicated 10 years to his country and the Army. It was only due to a heart attack that he had to leave what he loved but he has never waivered wanting to help others. In more recent years he has been dedicated to raising money and awareness for veteran suicide and mental illness in this country.

Daniel Santiago
Daniel Santiago
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He has been open and honest with his struggles with combat PTSD and depression. In recent years he began marching on Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day to raise awareness of this cause. Last Memorial Day he upped his march to 22 miles to represent the average of 22 veterans that take their life each day. This past Veterans Day he took it to the next level when he walked for 22 hours to represent this number. He walked from Port Jervis to Saugerties which was just over 70 miles. Not only was he a brave soldier but no the idea that all he wants to do is raise awareness and help others makes him totally rock. He will never stop. Most recently he is concerned about the people in Ukraine and I am sure he will soon have a way to give back to them as well. Definitely the most amazing person!!!

Daniel Santiago
Daniel Santiago
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Daniel shared with us why he's so dedicated to shining a light on mental healthcare for veterans.

I cannot put into words the horrors of war and I don't think I will ever attempt to do so. What I can say is that when you experience war you carry it with you for the rest of your life. It never leaves you. Each and every morning I begin my battle again. This being said, I would do it all over again... Our country has an ongoing need for better mental healthcare, as so many people know. Each day veterans are taking their lives and I feel like there is not enough awareness being brought to that. They were willing to give everything for this country and it should be this country that then in turn does everything to help them when they return.

In appreciation for all he's done and continues to do to help his fellow veterans, Daniel will receive $500 as this month's WPDH Vet Who Rocks. He will also be in the running for $10,000 which will be handed out to one monthly honoree on Veteran's Day this November.

Thank you to our partners: Tompkins Mahopac Bank, Unity Ambulette, Xterior Solutions and Mental Health America of Dutchess County.