Public Hearing - February 10, 2014

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       2      MILITARY AFFAIRS

       3      ------------------------------------------------------

       4                         PUBLIC HEARING


       6                          (S. 2803-B)

       7      ------------------------------------------------------

       8                       Legislative Office Building
                               181 State Street
       9                       Room 711-A, 7th Floor
                               Albany, New York 12247
                               February 10, 2014
      11                       1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

                 Senator Greg Ball
      14         Chair

      15         Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. (RM)

      17      PRESENT:

      18         Senator Terry Gipson

      19         Assemblyman Felix Ortiz








              SPEAKERS:                               PAGE  QUESTIONS
              First Lieutenant Carolyn Hulse             4       6
       3      Veteran
              Drexel Hamilton Equity Trading
       4           (Current Employee/Intern)

       5      Second Lieutenant James M. Terhune        10
       6      T&T Materials, Inc., President & CEO

       7      Sergeant Daniel Morales                   17
       8      Drexel Hamilton Equity Trading
                   (Current Employee)
              Sergeant Bill Nelson                      20
      10      Veteran
              Former CEO of HBO
              Sergeant Joseph Krulder II                24
      12      Veteran
              Drexel Hamilton Equity Trading,
      13           Assistant Vice President


      15                            ---oOo---












       1             SENATOR BALL:  We're a little late, sorry for

       2      that.

       3             Feel free to take your seats.

       4             We will be -- flexibility is the key to air

       5      power, at least that's what they tell you at the

       6      Air Force Academy.

       7             So, we will be somewhat flexible.

       8             But I want you to thank -- and just so you

       9      know, of course, we're in budget time now, so people

      10      are going to be coming in and out; we have senators

      11      that will be coming in and out.

      12             It's not that we're being rude.  It's just

      13      that, very intense schedules of dozens of events

      14      today.

      15             So, I want to thank our colleague over on the

      16      other side, Assemblyman Ortiz, who is actually

      17      sponsoring this legislation in the Assembly, and

      18      really has been doing the hero's work of getting

      19      this through the Assembly with nearly 60 co-sponsors

      20      now.

      21             And then our Co-Chair, Ranker, on the

      22      Senate side, Senator Addabbo, who has been an

      23      awesome friend, not only to the veterans, but

      24      myself, which is tough to find.

      25             I got a dog when I first came, so now I have


       1      two friends.

       2             And, Senator Gipson, who we actually share

       3      half a county.

       4             I don't know how that redistricting thing,

       5      how that worked, but, Senator Gipson, thank you for

       6      being here.

       7             Without further ado, because know we're

       8      behind, unless you guys want to do something else,

       9      I'd like to have, Carolyn, first lieutenant, all the

      10      way from Texas.

      11             We hear a lot about people moving from

      12      New York to Texas.

      13             This is a Texan that moved to New York.

      14             Hey, Carolyn, how are you?

      15             CAROLYN HULSE:  Good afternoon.  Thank you

      16      for having me here.

      17             I was active duty in the Air Force for a

      18      total of 12 years.  And, I was enlisted for 7 years,

      19      went over to the Gulf War.  We were the first

      20      hospital to set up in theater.

      21             And then I got out and used my GI Bill to

      22      earn my of master's degree, and came back in as a

      23      first lieutenant, and served five more years, and

      24      got out as a captain; whereas, I'm commissioned as a

      25      captain, as a hospital administrator.


       1             I have a 70 percent service-connected

       2      disability rating.  Part of that is from PTSD and

       3      other injuries that I sustained while I was on

       4      active duty.

       5             So, I want to thank you all for having me

       6      here today.  It's truly an honor.

       7             And I did move up here.  Actually, I arrived

       8      on Christmas Eve, and -- to start my new venture and

       9      make a career change.

      10             I worked in health care for 28 years, and was

      11      laid off just over a year ago.

      12             And it was actually a blessing in disguise,

      13      because my mother was diagnosed with cancer.  I was

      14      able to live with her and take care of her until she

      15      passed away.

      16             The president of our company flew me up to

      17      New York and interviewed me, and I told him my

      18      story, and told him I want to work hard.

      19             You know, like I said, I've been laid off for

      20      a year, but like I said, it was a blessing in

      21      disguise, to help care for my mother, and take care

      22      of things.

      23             And the president of our company has a heart

      24      of gold, and he hired me on.  And, I started up here

      25      in early January, as an intern.  So, I'm still


       1      studying for my Series 7.

       2             And the financial-services industry is a

       3      career change for me, but they've been very patient.

       4             We have well-seasoned Wall Street veterans

       5      there.  Very nice, humble people that are training

       6      us, taking us under their wing, and training the

       7      future of the financial-services industry.

       8             And all I have to say, after working in

       9      health care, I work with some very, very

      10      professional men and women there; mostly men.

      11             But, they're very professional, very

      12      respectful.  They're smart.

      13             And like I said, the president of the company

      14      really saved my life.

      15             So, I just wanted to thank everyone for being

      16      here.

      17             And thank you, for all our veterans here,

      18      war-wounded or not, thank you for your service.

      19             I can truly appreciate it.

      20             My dad was a World War II vet.

      21             SENATOR BALL:  Thank you, Carolyn.

      22                  [Applause.]

      23             SENATOR BALL:  Any questions?

      24             SENATOR ADDABBO, JR.:  First and foremost,

      25      thank you so much, once again, to see you here.


       1             Thank you.

       2             And to all servicemen and -women, to all

       3      veterans, thank you so much for your commitment and

       4      dedication to our country.

       5             Just on the bill, because I'm a little

       6      frustrated why this bill doesn't move.

       7             And I got to thank, you know, our Chair here,

       8      Senator Ball, for his tenacity about, and his

       9      persistence about, this bill.

      10             But it's a little frustrating on our end, why

      11      this bill doesn't go forward.

      12             Do you foresee any problems -- I don't -- do

      13      you foresee any problems with this bill, as far as

      14      implementation?

      15             I mean, we do know it has no cost to the

      16      state.  Actually, it's going to be, fiscally,

      17      beneficial.

      18             CAROLYN HULSE:  Uh-huh.  Absolutely.

      19             SENATOR ADDABBO, JR.:  Do you see any

      20      problems with this bill, as far as implementation?

      21             CAROLYN HULSE:  I would think it would be a

      22      positive, absolutely, to support the economy of

      23      New York, and also support the veterans.

      24             But implementing it, to the point where we

      25      are right now, I think the implementation is the


       1      easy part.

       2             I think it would be -- and I don't -- and

       3      I don't say that with a grain of salt.

       4             "Easy" being, just implement it, let's move

       5      it through, because it will move.  It will pick up

       6      its own momentum and it will move.

       7             Like I said, the veterans, having the

       8      veteran-owned, and especially the service-connected

       9      disabled-veteran-owned businesses, will greatly

      10      prosper New York.

      11             And, we really want New York be a

      12      veteran-friendly state.

      13             Texas is a very veteran-friendly state.

      14             I saved a lot of taxes when I was a

      15      homeowner.

      16             I could park free at the airport.  Hey,

      17      that's $20 a day.

      18             So, you know, lots and lots of perks.

      19             My son is actually going to college now,

      20      using my Hazlewood Act.  It pays for all of his

      21      college tuition.

      22             So there are a lot of things, that, we really

      23      want New York to support our veterans and our

      24      service-connected disabled veterans.

      25             And this bill would help support them their


       1      families.

       2             And like I said a few minutes ago, we're

       3      hard-working, we have high integrity.  We'll show up

       4      to work, we'll work as many hours as we need to do.

       5             And, as an Air Force, flexibility is the key

       6      to air power.  But, also, another mantra we would

       7      use is, "Whatever it takes."

       8             We will do whatever it takes.

       9             So, whenever I would ask, when I was a

      10      hospital administrator, I'd ask any of my staff:

      11      The surgery is going to run another hour or two.

      12      Would you mind working, you know, until 6 p.m.?

      13             And instead of getting an eye roll, like,

      14      "Really?" if I asked any of my veterans, they'll be,

      15      like, <snaps fingers> "I'll be right there, not a

      16      problem."

      17             We don't watch the clock.  We do whatever it

      18      takes.

      19             So, I think this bill would -- the

      20      implementation shouldn't be a factor, because

      21      I think if the veterans are afforded this

      22      opportunity, they're going to take it and go with

      23      it, and they're going to do us proud.

      24             SENATOR BALL:  And we've seen the success

      25      with the minority-, women-owned, program; the vast


       1      success under this Governor's leadership to over

       2      20 percent of the State contracts.

       3             This program has been rolled out specifically

       4      at the federal level, and then 44 other states where

       5      there haven't been any complications.

       6             And we have over 72,000 disabled vets in

       7      New York State, so, this, it's a big deal.

       8             Well, Carolyn, thank you very much.

       9             CAROLYN HULSE:  Thank you.

      10             ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  And thank you for serving

      11      our country.

      12                  [Applause.]

      13             SENATOR BALL:  Jim?  You ready?

      14             Just a little bit about James.  I'll read it

      15      from the bio hearing.

      16             "Enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1972.

      17             "Served until his honorable discharge in

      18      1977.

      19             "Continues military service in the New York

      20      Army National Guard, from '77 to '80, and then

      21      reenlisted in 2001 with the Army National Guard."

      22             James.

      23             JAMES M. TERHUNE:  And another five years,

      24      then, I went through OCS.

      25             My condition, when I was 51, I think I was


       1      the oldest second lieutenant in the military at the

       2      time.  Pretty funny.

       3             I wish I was still there, but, I can't do it

       4      anymore.

       5             So, I've got five minutes, and this stuff's

       6      all important; so, if you don't mind my reading it?

       7             SENATOR BALL:  Yep.

       8             JAMES M. TERHUNE:  Okay.

       9             Well, Chairman --

      10             SENATOR BALL:  I actually hate reading,

      11      but --

      12             JAMES M. TERHUNE:  You'll see it.  Most of

      13      it, I'll just cut through.  I tend to wing it

      14      anyhow.  It's the old Army, I guess.

      15             But, Chairman Ball, members of the

      16      Senate Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security, and

      17      Military Affairs, and my fellow veterans:  Good

      18      afternoon.

      19             My name is Jim Terhune.

      20             I founded T&T Materials in 2006, and I serve

      21      as the president and the CEO.

      22             I am a service-disabled veteran, and my

      23      company carries that designation.

      24             Now, I'd just like to tell you quickly what

      25      we do.


       1             T&T Materials is a successful metal supplier

       2      to the U.S. Military.

       3             When the Army was short of armor plate back

       4      in the Iraq War, we would be the ones they'd look

       5      for, to send it in, to build the machine-gunners'

       6      kits, and save our soldiers' lives.

       7             We're approved through 12 different military

       8      organizations as suppliers, through IDIQs and BAEs.

       9             And, we are a STAR Supplier Award recipient

      10      with Lockheed Martin, the only one in our

      11      designation that has received that award.

      12             So my point is, we've been doing this for

      13      eight years and we're very good at it, but in the

      14      past eight years, I haven't had one order through

      15      New York State in a procurement area, even though

      16      we've tried.

      17             And, I've discussed it with other

      18      veteran-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned

      19      companies and they've had the same problems, which

      20      is the reason that I'm here today and that I showed

      21      up.

      22             What I'd like to do now is just talk about

      23      those three Senate bills, and the benefits to

      24      veterans-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned

      25      small businesses.


       1             So, for those that don't know, the 2803-B

       2      seeks to establish a modest set-aside for

       3      state-agency purchases that will be awarded to

       4      service-disabled and veteran-owned small businesses.

       5             Now, that is a successful practice that's

       6      already been implemented by well over 40 states and

       7      the federal government.

       8             I think California was one of the first ones,

       9      and they, 20 years, probably, have been doing it,

      10      and they're doing a heck of a job.

      11             So those that argue what's the appropriate

      12      set-aside percentage or debate the fairness in a

      13      free-market economy completely miss the point.

      14             By implementing and enforcing a finite and

      15      measurable target for a percentage of purchase

      16      contracts to be awarded to veteran- and

      17      service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, you

      18      will motivate the state agencies to reach out to

      19      those businesses; and, therefore, move out of their

      20      comfort zones of working with those large incumbent

      21      organizations.

      22             I can assure you, being in the government

      23      arena, that those set-asides don't guarantee any

      24      company any business, but if enacted, they'll simply

      25      level the playing field for our veteran-owned small


       1      businesses.

       2             And then, on the other hand, for those that

       3      embrace and support the advocacy ineffectiveness of

       4      set-asides for government purchases for women-owned,

       5      minority-owned, I would ask:  Are those who have

       6      borne the burden of defending our rights and

       7      liberties, those that have put themselves in harm's

       8      way, and, for some, endured lifelong injury and

       9      disability, are those heros any less deserving of

      10      consideration from this state government?

      11             And I think we would all agree here, they are

      12      not.

      13             So, Senate Bill 3038-A is a good one, too,

      14      which is going to help veteran-owned small

      15      businesses overcome the insurmountable advantage of

      16      those large corporate entities which I think

      17      artificially lower the competitive-pricing

      18      threshold, effectively, shutting out the

      19      service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses,

      20      which is what I think has happened to me.

      21             In my industry, too often, a government

      22      contract's awarded at a price point that translates

      23      to zero profitability for the bidding corporation.

      24             That predatory business strategy employed

      25      there is to win the lead contract, and by so doing


       1      so, become the favored supplier for all similar

       2      products and services, freezing out your

       3      competition.

       4             I don't think -- I think this new Senate bill

       5      will overcome that.

       6             The competitive indexing for the fair

       7      evaluation of bids that will be enacted by that

       8      legislation will mitigate the staggering advantage

       9      of large established corporations.

      10             And I think there was a 15 percent preference

      11      for veteran -- service-disabled veteran-owned, and

      12      10 percent for veteran-owned.

      13             And I think including the veteran-owned in

      14      all of this is as important.

      15             The last one, this one is beyond me:  Tax

      16      credits to companies that hire veterans.

      17             From my perspective, it seems almost

      18      unnecessary to present a justification for what

      19      should be an obvious and non-debatable remedy.

      20             An unemployment rate of 20 percent of the

      21      employable veteran population is, at best,

      22      unacceptable; and, at worse, shameful.

      23             And it's -- an even worse strategy --

      24      tragedy, I'm sorry, because it's compounded by the

      25      labor statistics that show that the rate is even


       1      more severe for the younger veterans who have

       2      recently returned from the conflicts in Iran and

       3      Afghanistan.

       4             The noble men and women who answer our

       5      nation's call to duty and who fought bravely against

       6      the enemies of our republic now find themselves

       7      marking time on unemployment.

       8             Those soldiers don't want a government

       9      handout, but they deserve a hand-up.

      10             So as I conclude my remarks, I just want to

      11      thank Senator Ball.

      12             I probably talked too much and read, and he

      13      took off, so, and I understand that.

      14                  [Laughter.]

      15             I tend to talk too much, usually.

      16             But as I reflect on the possible impacts of

      17      that trio of legislation -- legislative initiatives

      18      that he's got in front of us, I'm reminded of a line

      19      from a speech given by President Kennedy for a

      20      Veteran's Day event.

      21             And he said, "As we express our gratitude to

      22      our veterans, we must never forget that the highest

      23      appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by

      24      them."

      25             So, finally, the economic challenges facing


       1      our veterans, both as entrepreneurs and as

       2      job-seekers, are formidable and well-documented.

       3             How you, the elected servants of the people

       4      of this state respond will be measured, not by the

       5      eloquence of your words, but by the courage of your

       6      actions.

       7             And that's it.

       8             SENATOR ADDABBO, JR.:  Good job.

       9                  [Applause.]

      10             SENATOR ADDABBO, JR.:  Thank you.

      11             UNKNOWN SPEAKER:  Mr. Morales.

      12             SENATOR ADDABBO, JR.:  Daniel Morales.

      13             And while he approaches, I'll mention, that:

      14             Daniel Morales joined Drexel Hamilton Equity

      15      Trading on January 1, 2013.

      16             Prior to joining Drexel, he served as the

      17      field radio operator for the 2nd Battalion,

      18      25th Marine Regiment, H&S Company Communications

      19      Platoon.

      20             In addition, he served as the field radio

      21      operator for the Sniper Platoon.

      22             DANIEL MORALES:  Good afternoon, ladies and

      23      gentlemen.

      24             I'd like to begin, first, by thanking my

      25      fellow veterans here.  Your presence and your voice


       1      is crucially important, as unemployment itself is a

       2      battlefield.

       3             And many of you men and women who are here

       4      have retired; and, yet, here you are, continuing to

       5      fight the good fight on the battlefield so that

       6      veterans like myself returning from the wars in Iraq

       7      and Afghanistan can come home and build the life.

       8             I'd like to further extend the gratitude to

       9      Senators present, Assemblyman Ortiz, for giving us

      10      the opportunity to speak on a very important issue.

      11             I work for a firm called Drexel Hamilton,

      12      with my colleagues, Joseph and Carolyn.

      13             And, we are a disabled-veteran

      14      owned-and-managed institutional broker-dealer firm.

      15             What we do is, we take returning veterans

      16      from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and we train

      17      them, and provide them with the opportunity to find

      18      meaningful employment in the finance industry.

      19             We pair our Wall Street veteran with a

      20      military veteran, so on and so forth; get them

      21      battle-ready, and send them off to a meaningful

      22      career.

      23             We are, literally, in the front lines of this

      24      battle that is plaguing our veterans: this

      25      unemployment situation here.


       1             But our efforts, in the greater picture,

       2      is -- it feels insignificant.

       3             It isn't, but it feels that way.

       4             But with a bill like the bill you guys are

       5      putting forth today, it allows institutions, as

       6      Drexel Hamilton, and other veteran-owned small

       7      businesses, to reach back and continue hiring

       8      veterans.

       9             As has been said more than once here today,

      10      one of the best things that veteran-owned companies

      11      do, is hiring more veterans.  We take care of our

      12      own.

      13             And that is, ultimately, the reason why we

      14      are having this discussion today.

      15             This bill, in its very essence, will echo

      16      through the generations.

      17             It will reach back to the veterans of the

      18      wars of yesterday, those who have established small

      19      businesses, and say, We recognize and appreciate

      20      your sacrifices and contributions, and this is one

      21      way we're going to show it.

      22             And it tells the veterans returning from the

      23      wars in Iraq and Afghanistan today, the same thing:

      24      We appreciate you raising a hand and volunteering,

      25      and, we're going to take care of you.


       1             And most importantly, it will reach further

       2      into the future and tell the veterans of tomorrow:

       3      That this is how we take care of our own.  This is

       4      how we say "thank you" to our men and women who put

       5      themselves on that front line, risking, and those

       6      who sacrifice.

       7             I thank you all for your time today, and I'd

       8      love to take any questions if there are any.

       9             SENATOR BALL:  Thank you.

      10             Any questions here?

      11             Awesome.

      12             Thank you for your time.

      13                  [Applause.]

      14             SENATOR BALL:  Next we've got, Bill Nelson.

      15             Bill is a combat vet from Vietnam.  Served

      16      with the U.S. Army's 2nd 502 Strike Force Infantry

      17      Regiment of the 101st Airborne.

      18             He is the former chairman and CEO of HBO.

      19             And, he also happens to live in my district,

      20      so I better not mess up.

      21             He'll be running against me.

      22                  [Laughter.]

      23             SENATOR BALL:  Colin, I think we have a name,

      24      by the way.

      25             Where's Colin?


       1             BILL NELSON:  First let me say, it's a

       2      privilege for me to be here, and to lend support, to

       3      join all the other veterans in this room, and all

       4      the other veterans across this state who couldn't be

       5      here, to speak out in support of this very important

       6      legislation.

       7             I want to commend Senator Ball,

       8      Assemblyman Ortiz, Senator Addabbo, and

       9      Senator Gipson, and all of your colleagues in both

      10      the Assembly and the Senate who support, along with

      11      you, this legislation.

      12             I'm here simply because I'm a Vietnam

      13      veteran, and I've seen that there are other Vietnam

      14      veterans in this room.

      15             And what we believe in, what our motto is,

      16      with the founding principle of Vietnam Veterans of

      17      America, is:  Is never again will one generation of

      18      veterans abandon another.

      19             That's why many of us are here.

      20                  [Applause.]

      21             DANIEL MORALES:  As I said to someone

      22      earlier, in the hallway:  We don't only talk the

      23      talk, we walk the walk.

      24             And, I was very happy to hear, therefore,

      25      that the federal government and 44 states -- that's


       1      almost 90 percent of the United States -- passed

       2      similar legislation, with a contract preference for

       3      service-disabled veterans and those with small

       4      businesses.

       5             And as a lifelong citizen of New York State,

       6      I was stunned when I found out that New York was one

       7      of the six who hadn't passed this legislation.

       8             And I say that especially so.

       9             I was in Manhattan when 9/11 happened.  Maybe

      10      many of you were as well.

      11             But the thing that most impressed me, not

      12      only the first responders and the whole community

      13      and whole state, but those men and women who stepped

      14      forward because of that attack, raised their right

      15      hand, as Senator Ball has said today many times, to

      16      go into harm's way, to risk their lives, to leave

      17      their families, to make sure that this country would

      18      be secure, to make sure that New York City and

      19      New York State would be secure.

      20             Those are the people, and many of them are

      21      right here, who went on the battlefields of Iraq and

      22      Afghanistan, got shot up, seeing their buddies die,

      23      lost limbs, lost eyesight.  I said before, traumatic

      24      brain injury, PTSD, down the list.

      25             "Down the list."


       1             This State called on those people -- and not

       2      very many of them who were able to accomplish that,

       3      another point -- they went into harm's way.  They

       4      accomplished extraordinary things in mostly

       5      hellacious circumstances.

       6             And born of that extraordinary selfless

       7      sacrifice comes an extraordinary obligation on the

       8      citizens of this state; and more importantly, those

       9      elected officials, elected officials of this state,

      10      to pass this legislation.

      11             What are we saying to these veterans, what

      12      are we saying to future veterans, if this bill

      13      doesn't pass?

      14             I'd like to actually sit in a hearing like

      15      this and have the people, whoever they are, those

      16      elected officials who do not support this bill.

      17             I think it's incumbent upon them to defend

      18      themselves, because this is nothing more than a

      19      moral obligation and a patriotic obligation for this

      20      state.

      21             So those who don't support it, I think have

      22      an obligation to come forward with the microphone

      23      and their lips over it, saying why they don't

      24      support it.

      25             And I actually would say, maybe that's


       1      something that should happen with all the cameras

       2      across this good state and all the citizens

       3      listening in, because I cannot believe the majority

       4      of citizens in New York State, if they were fully

       5      informed about what this bill is, and there are some

       6      that oppose it, that those people would be

       7      re-elected in the spots that they currently sit in.

       8             I'm going to close by saying this, and I said

       9      it before:

      10             We are defined by what we do and what we

      11      don't do.

      12             What we do and what we don't do, in equal

      13      measure.

      14             I actually think it's quite simple:  That

      15      this group of elected officials know what the right

      16      thing to do is, and I think they should and must

      17      make this legislation part of their legacy in

      18      August.

      19             Thank you.

      20             SENATOR BALL:  Thank you, Bill.  God bless.

      21                  [Applause.]

      22             SENATOR BALL:  Thank you.

      23             ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  Thank you.

      24             SENATOR BALL:  Joe.

      25             JOSEPH KRULDER II:  Good afternoon,


       1      gentlemen.

       2             My name is Joseph Krulder.  I am the

       3      assistant vice president of Drexel Hamilton.

       4             We are a service-disabled

       5      veteran-owned-and-operated institutional

       6      broker-dealer, as Danny Morales and Carolyn Hulse,

       7      my cohorts, have described in the past.

       8             I'm also the nephew of the gentleman sitting

       9      right behind the Senator, who is also vice commander

      10      of the National DAV, my proud uncle, Dennis Krulder.

      11                  [Applause.]

      12             JOSEPH KRULDER II:  I've had a very long day.

      13             And the Senator and Assemblyman, and many of

      14      their leaders, have had a very long couple of

      15      sessions, trying to fight for something that is, in

      16      the words of my brother-in-arms, 101st Airborne

      17      Division partner in crime, "Something that's just

      18      morally right, obligated by our citizenry."

      19             There's not much I have to say about what

      20      this bill shouldn't pass for.

      21             Here's why I guarantee you it should:

      22             Drexel Hamilton is founded on the premise

      23      that we reach back and we hire more men and women,

      24      "veterans," period.

      25             If you're a veteran and you come home, you


       1      come home to the highest unemployment rate this

       2      country's seen in decades.  You come home to the

       3      highest underemployment rate that this country's

       4      seen in decades.  You come home, after serving 4, 5,

       5      6, 11 tours of duty.

       6             I put to anybody:  How many people can hold a

       7      job steady in a career, that's been deployed more

       8      than twice in a four-year period?

       9             There's a lot of laws out there that say you

      10      can't fire you.

      11             You go out, and -- I promise you, I know

      12      personally, men and women that have been released

      13      from their service to their businesses because they,

      14      frankly, can't be there.

      15             Why?  Because their country, and this state,

      16      says, We need you somewhere of higher importance.

      17             That's our obligation, gentlemen.  You know

      18      that.

      19             I'm preaching to the choir when I talk to you

      20      guys, because I know you're here because you believe

      21      in the same thing I do.

      22             You believe in the same thing every single

      23      man and woman in this room believes in:  That we

      24      fought for our country.  Some of us died for our

      25      country.  And some live with the lasting impression,


       1      that they'll never let go of certain things, for

       2      this country.

       3             I'm one of those men.

       4             At the 101st Airborne Division, I probably

       5      wear my pin and my CIB that Mr. Nelson honored me

       6      today with.

       7             When you're pinned to CIB, it means that you

       8      were in direct combat and you returned that combat

       9      fire.  You fought the fight.

      10             Being pinned a CIB means that you've done

      11      something at a higher level and have been asked to

      12      do something great.

      13             I'm asking each one of you to go back to your

      14      fellow constituents, your Assemblymen and your

      15      Senators, both sides of the party.  This is not a --

      16      this is so far from being a political issue, it's a

      17      little ridiculous.

      18             This is an issue of honor and integrity.

      19             The same things that you're elected under.

      20             It's the issue of each one of us, to go back

      21      and say:  Listen, let's pin a badge of honor on each

      22      one of us, because our constituents [inaudible]

      23      would say, We need to make sure that the men and

      24      women that come home don't get a promise.  They

      25      receive that 5 percent guaranteed set-aside, so that


       1      they can perform that dream that they fought for,

       2      that you and I currently continue to have; and

       3      that's meaningful employment, meaningful opportunity

       4      to create business, and meaningful opportunity to

       5      stand in front of their wives or husbands and their

       6      children and feel honor again.

       7             Because I promise you, I was there once,

       8      gentlemen.  I was one of those men that was in a

       9      very deep dark hole.

      10             Now, I might not look it.

      11             I might sound very eloquent and a little

      12      savvy, but my wife and my children suffered for

      13      years, because of the pains that I had on the

      14      inside, the things that I had to deal with.

      15             And the fact that, as an educated man,

      16      I couldn't even find a job.  And I was like, Oh, my

      17      God, I'm an educated man.  What you are talking

      18      about?

      19             Well, because education has nothing to do

      20      with it.

      21             Unemployment is unemployment.

      22             No jobs are no jobs.

      23             This bill will make a significant dent in the

      24      state of New York, on making sure just one extra

      25      veteran, one extra disabled veteran, can afford to


       1      take care of his family or her family.

       2             That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

       3                  [Laughter.]

       4                  [Applause.]

       5             SENATOR BALL:  Any questions?

       6             Okay.

       7             Well, gentlemen, I want to thank you.

       8             And I guess, do we want to close?

       9             ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  Yep.

      10             JOSEPH KRULDER II:  Thank you, gentlemen.

      11             ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  I would like to, if you

      12      mind, I would like to really thank all of you who

      13      are here.

      14             For those of you who are here for the first

      15      time and don't know me, I used to be the Chair of

      16      the Veteran Affairs Committee, about six years ago.

      17      And I'm also a former Army person.  I served in the

      18      Army many years ago.

      19             SENATOR BALL:  All right.  Yeah.

      20                  [Applause.]

      21             ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  And I have a history, a

      22      family member who has served throughout different

      23      ranks of the military; by the way, including the

      24      Coast Guard, and which I do believe that we also

      25      have to include to be part of this.


       1             And I would like just to really thank the

       2      Senator for bringing more light into this issue.

       3             I will say this publicly, I never said this

       4      before to him:

       5             I will say that this Senator, not only he has

       6      it in his heart and in his blood, but this is, he

       7      has become to be the real champion and the real hero

       8      of this issue for us all.  Not just for you, but

       9      also, for me, for my son who served in Iraq.

      10             And I do also share your pain about

      11      unemployment, because when I came from the military,

      12      I was told that I will go back to my job because

      13      I took a absent -- a military absence.

      14             And, all of a sudden, was not a job there

      15      available for me.

      16             And then I have to bring three more lawyers

      17      to fight for me, to ensure that my job get back to

      18      me.

      19             And I got the job back, by the way, after

      20      that.

      21             But, the bottom line is, we sometimes get

      22      told things that is on the rules, it's part of the

      23      rules of our law.  And, all of a sudden, people

      24      believe that they can get away with it.

      25             And I would like to finalize by saying this:


       1             Thank you for giving me the opportunity to

       2      have this bill, together with the Senator, and to

       3      serve my brothers and sisters from the armed forces

       4      from a different capacity, where we know both can

       5      make a big difference.

       6             And I hope that the -- as the Governor stated

       7      today to some of us, that the 2014 will be that

       8      shining star.  That we will see the light at the end

       9      of the tunnel, that this bill become to be reality.

      10             Thank you for the opportunity that you have

      11      given us.

      12                  [Applause.]

      13             SENATOR BALL:  Senator Gipson?

      14      Senator Addabbo?

      15             SENATOR GIPSON:  Go ahead.

      16             SENATOR ADDABBO, JR.:  No.

      17             SENATOR BALL:  Well, I want to thank

      18      everybody.

      19             First, I want to thank my staff.  Putting

      20      this together is not easy.

      21             Thank you.

      22                  [Applause.]

      23             SENATOR BALL:  I kind have high expectations,

      24      and today they were met; so, thank you.

      25             But, there's a lot more that still needs to


       1      be done.

       2             You know, when we think about something like

       3      this, it really is a moral obligation.  It should be

       4      considered a moral obligation.

       5             I'm sorry, as an elected official, that we

       6      have to work so hard, that we force you guys to work

       7      so hard, to do something.  That, this should have

       8      been done a long, long time ago.

       9             But when we think about both veterans'

      10      unemployment and veteran suicide, this bill will

      11      allow service-disabled veteran-owned businesses to

      12      taps into hundreds of millions of dollars in

      13      contracts.  They, in turn, will hire veterans,

      14      taking them off the unemployment line.

      15             And we all have friends that have succumbed

      16      to suicide after service, and there's no doubt that

      17      many of them, with meaningful employment, never

      18      would have taken their own lives.

      19             This bill isn't just about jobs.  It's going

      20      to save lives.

      21             And we're doing God's work.

      22             And I thank Felix for his continued

      23      leadership.  The go-to guy on veterans affairs if

      24      you want to get something done in the New York State

      25      Assembly.


       1             I thank each and every one of you.

       2             And, certainly, Senator Addabbo and

       3      Senator Gipson, for showing up here for this hearing

       4      today.

       5                  [Applause.]

       6                  (Whereupon, at approximately 1:33 p.m.,

       7        the public hearing held before the New York State

       8        Senate Standing Committee on Veterans,

       9        Homeland Security, and Military Affairs concluded,

      10        and adjourned.)


      12                            ---oOo---