SUNY New Paltz professor deployed by American Red Cross to volunteer at Newtown

NEW PALTZ – The American Red Cross Mid-Hudson Valley Chapter deployed James Halpern to volunteer in Newtown, CT this week to assist with Red Cross support efforts following the tragic school shooting on Friday.

Halpern, who is a professor of psychology and counseling at SUNY New Paltz and Director of the Institute of Disaster Mental Health (IDMH), was dispatched to Newtown on Saturday, Dec. 15. Halpern has been a Red Cross volunteer since 2000 and provided assistance at major events such as the 2007 Nor’easter, Pennsylvania floods of 2004, and Tropical Storm Allison (LA) in 2001.

While in Newtown, Halpern has provided emotional support and grief counseling to first responders, members of the community, family members and classmates of the victims. He has been stationed in the Family Assistance Center, was present at President Obama’s visit with victim’s family members, and supported the interfaith vigil at Newtown High School.

“What we, the Red Cross, supply to this community, is a gift from the American people,” said Halpern. “Similar to 9/11, this tragedy once again, shattered our assumptions about the world we live in.”

Halpern added that he felt honored to be there with several well-trained and highly experienced Red Cross workers helping people deal with emotional stress, and provide guidance and counsel.

IDMH program students intern at the Mid-Hudson Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross. IDMH also partners with the Red Cross in Greater New York to provide support for the annual 9/11 memorial service in Manhattan.

More than 150 Red Cross volunteers have been providing food, water and emotional support for the community of Newtown at the request of local authorities.

For more information on the Red Cross assistance efforts in Newtown, CT. visit

For more information on the IDMH program at New Paltz please visit