With New York City’s 100th annual Veterans Day Parade providing a backdrop Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a package of bills enhancing services and bolstering protections for New Yorkers who serve or have served in the armed forces.
The 14 measures protect the rights of active duty military members and veterans in a number of areas, including access to education, employment, voting, discharge status protection and general services and benefits.
“We celebrate on this beautiful new York day our veterans who we owe the ultimate debt of gratitude New York, we have about 750,000 women and men who are veterans and we honor them today,” Cuomo said. “So, I am going to sign this bill which is the signing of all 14 bills for this veterans initiative package that says thank you, we appreciate you, we appreciate your service, and we remember it every day and this is our way of reciprocating in the honor of your service.”
One of the 14 measures was authored by Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato. It requires that local veterans service agencies provide valuable assistance to veterans located within their jurisdiction and requires these agencies to assist veterans in the process of submitting an application for a discharge upgrade.
“As state and federal governments move to streamline services so we can improve quality of service for those who have sacrificed so much, I am proud to make this modest, but important contribution,” she said. “I look forward to continuing to make those who have served a high priority throughout my tenure in Albany.”
Assemblywoman Nily Rozic sponsored another bill that was signed by Cuomo that mandates a report to determine how many homeless veterans are living in New York state.
“It is our responsibility to ensure that New York’s veterans have full access to the educational opportunities and social services they need regardless of when they served,” Rozic said. “We should honor their service while also providing a pathway towards economic self-sufficiency. Thank you to Governor Cuomo for signing a legislative package that enacts solutions to best assist all those who have sacrificed so much in service to our country.”
In Queens, Borough President Melinda Katz hosted her annual Veterans Day Observance Ceremony at Borough Hall honoring the service and sacrifice of nearly 59,000 Queens veterans and their families. Later this year, the borough will unveil the Queens Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Elmhurst Park, which will pay a fitting tribute to the Queens service members who died in or as a result of that conflict.
And there was a Veterans Day celebration at the Far Rockaway Center on Virginia Street. The program at the 100-bed nursing and rehabilitation facility began with a color guard that featured a bagpiper. Each of the veterans who are residents at the center received a framed “Legion of Merit” certificate.
“The ceremony was very emotional with several of the veterans and staff members coming to tears,” Recreation Director Zelideth Reyes said. “These are our bravest, past and recently served. They deserve our love and recognition.”