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Addabbo eyes improved health care and tax breaks for veterans

The Senate Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs has recently approved a legislative package of four bills, all co-sponsored by state Senator Joseph Addabbo, which aim to improve health care and help lower property taxes for veterans of all ages.

“Our veterans — whether they served many years ago or are returning home from service — deserve our utmost respect,” said Addabbo, who is the ranking member of the Senate Veterans Committee. “This package of bills is now moving towards a vote by the full Senate and I am hopeful they will be enacted by both houses of the state Legislature before the end of the 2015 legislative season.”

The four bills would establish a veterans’ gerontological advisory committee within the state Office for the Aging to help ensure the state plans appropriately for the needs of an aging veteran population, including programming for long-term and continuing care; health promotion and rehabilitation; and other issues of concern to aging servicemen and women.

Additionally, the state Division of Veterans Affairs would be required to form and disseminate to former service members a “fact sheet” regarding various veteran-specific health care services offered at local hospitals.

The bills would also green-light local real property tax exemptions for reservist veterans who served under the Federal Reserve Forces Act of 1955. This would provide them with tax savings similar to those already available to other Cold War-era service members.

Additionally, the bills will authorize local governments across New York State to adopt laws prohibiting increases in real property tax liability for veterans who are receiving tax exemptions related to their service.

“Full approval of these four pieces of legislation would help to advance important goals that I think we all hold for our veterans: the ability to access appropriate and effective health care services and the ability to keep roofs over their heads when other basic living expenses seem to be rising all the time,” Addabbo said. “We will never be able to adequately thank those who risked everything for all of us in service to our country, but working to ensure our veterans are able to enjoy a decent quality of life when they return to us is a step in the right direction.”

The bills are currently waiting to be considered by the full Senate. An Assembly committee is examining companion bills similar to Addabbo’s legislation.

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