Gov. Kathy Hochul has signed seven pieces of legislation that aim to provide resources and support to veterans and their families. Her team said, “These bills build upon this administration’s dedication to acknowledging the sacrifices made by veterans and ensuring they can return to their civilian lives more easily.”
“We owe a debt of gratitude to the veterans who risked their lives to serve our country,” Hochul said. “This legislation will provide resources and support to New York’s veterans, honoring their service and recognizing their heroism.”
√ S.7461/A.3381A clarifies the definition of veteran to include career members of the armed forces for tax exemption purposes. This bill updates the law to reflect current military practices and to create an incentive to keep career members of the military here in New York.
√ S.3309A/A.6084A will allow, beginning on April 1, 2024, residents who are veterans and members of a Gold Star family free access to state parks, historic sites, and recreational facilities in New York.
√ S.1671A/A.6140A requires the small business revolving loan fund within New York’s Empire State Development Corp. to market to veteran-owned enterprises and service-disabled veteran-owned enterprises.
State Sen. Joseph Addabbo, Jr. said, "This new law is a testament to our unwavering commitment to supporting veterans and their entrepreneurial spirit. By requiring the small business revolving loan fund in the Empire State Development Corp. to specifically target and market to veteran-owned enterprises and service-disabled veteran-owned enterprises, we are ensuring that these brave men and women receive the necessary resources and opportunities to succeed in the business world. Our veterans have sacrificed so much for our nation, and it's only fitting that we provide them with the support they need to thrive in the civilian sector.”
New York State Sen. Jamaal T. Bailey said, “Freedom is not free. These critical pieces of legislation honor our commitment to the brave individuals who have made the ultimate sacrifice and given so much to protect our country and our freedoms. The financial, societal, physical and emotional costs of serving are lifelong – and we must do all that we can to ensure our veterans and their families receive the comprehensive support they deserve to lead their lives with dignity, stability, and opportunities to thrive upon returning home. S2372 will require the publication of the number of veterans or surviving spouses of veterans on certain housing waiting lists and support veterans in making informed decisions about where to apply for housing. With the signing of this legislation, we are taking another step forward to fulfill our promise to our veterans.”
√ S.2372/A.1084 requires that the number of applicants applying as veterans, or a surviving spouse of a veteran, be made available on the Mitchell-Lama application waitlist so that those applying have a clear indication of whether there are other veterans applying for the same housing.
√ S.454A/A.3116A directs counties and the City of New York to contact a veterans’ organization to collect any unclaimed remains of a deceased veteran if they do not have any next of kin or other designee to provide for their disposition. This legislation aims to ensure all who serve this county are given a proper interment.
√ S.7378/A.7379 eliminates the “wartime service” requirement that prohibits a large number of interested veterans from seeking employment in certain civil service roles, expanding the application pool.
√ S.291/A.1347 establishes VIP NY, a veteran internship program that will award 10% of available internships in the Assembly Youth Participation program and the Senate Student Program to eligible honorably discharged veterans.
Assembly member Pamela Hunter said, “Every Veteran's Day, we take a moment to acknowledge and commend the many veterans who have sacrificed for our country. In recent years, it has become increasingly apparent that we did not do everything we could have to support our veterans when they returned from service. As a veteran myself, I understand many of the struggles our veterans go through, but also understand each veteran has unique experiences and challenges. On this Veteran's Day, I would like to thank Gov. Hochul for signing this slate of veteran legislation, including the bill I sponsored that ensures unclaimed veteran remains are given a proper burial. Veterans diligently gave themselves for our country and it is the absolute least we can do to make sure veteran remains are not left to sit on shelves indefinitely. Enacting this law is the right thing to do, and I look forward to enabling our many veteran organizations to work with funeral homes to give veterans the burial services that they deserve.”
Earlier this week, the governor honored veterans with the year’s sixth and final “Free Fishing Day.” Last week, Hochul announced the completion of Northside Village in Schenectady, a public housing revitalization that includes 61 units with supportive services for veterans and individuals with physical disabilities.
In September, Hochul announced the award of nearly $4 million in federal funding to expand and improve the New York State Veterans Cemetery – Finger Lakes, the first veterans cemetery owned and operated by New York state.
Veterans may find more support through the New York State Department of Veterans’ Services, which has served as the state’s advocacy agency for veterans, service members and military families since 1945. The department maintains an agencywide commitment of serving all veterans, service members and military families in a wide range of practice areas, including claims and appeals for benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, discharge upgrade appeals to the U.S. Department of Defense, and claims for New York state benefits. Veterans, service members and military families are encouraged to contact the department at 888-838-7697 or its website veterans.ny.gov to meet – in person or virtually – with an accredited veterans benefits adviser to address their needs and gain the full measure of benefits that they have earned. Follow DVS on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.