ALBANY, NY – Senator Sue Serino today joined veterans from across the region at a bipartisan press conference hosted by Senator John Brooks, Assemblymember Didi Barrett, and Assemblyman Jake Ashby, Chairs and Ranking Member of the State Legislature’s respective veterans affairs committees, to push for the passage of legislation that would elevate the Division of Veterans’ Services within state government.
Specifically, the bill (S. 7526A) aims to streamline access to veterans’ services and programs by housing them all in one central section of law, and elevating the current division to an Executive Department with its own Commissioner to ensure that the department has a direct line to the Governor to more effectively raise and respond to issues that impact New York’s veterans.
“We owe an incredible debt of gratitude to our veterans, but it is not enough to simply thank them for their service,” said Senator Serino. “We have to ensure that our actions at the state level make it clear that our veterans and the services they rely on are a top priority, and advancing this legislation to break down bureaucratic barriers and increase access to critical programs is key to doing that. Many issues truly transcend politics, and ensuring our veterans have access to the resources they—and their families—rely on should have unanimous support. I urge my colleagues in both houses of the Legislature to make this bill a priority.”
Currently oversight and funding distribution span multiple state departments, agencies and offices and according to the bill sponsor’s memo, only an estimated 17 percent of the overall veterans' population is accessing their earned benefits.
Senator Serino co-sponsors the bill, which is carried by Senator John Brooks and Assemblymember Didi Barrett.