Rozic Announces Veterans Bills Signed into Law

Bills would expand program that awards high school diplomas for veterans and study veteran homelessness

Queens, NY Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D,WF-Fresh Meadows) announced the signing of two pieces of legislation (A4654 and A5660) she sponsored. The first would expand an education program called Operation Recognition that allows high school diplomas to be awarded to veterans. The second would direct key state agencies to issue reports on New York’s homeless veterans and social services they need. As part of the reports, recommendations would be provided to combat this growing epidemic. The bill passed both the Assembly and Senate with bipartisan support and was signed by Governor Cuomo in recognition of Veteran’s Day.

“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. We should honor their service while also providing a pathway towards economic self-sufficiency,” said Assemblywoman Rozic. “This legislative package enacts solutions to best assist all those who have sacrificed so much in service to our country.”

Under current law, Operation Recognition recognizes WWII, Korea, and Vietnam veterans who joined military service prior to high school graduation by awarding them a high school diploma. The applicant must be a resident of New York and have received an honorable discharge. This new law expands coverage to all veterans who enlisted in military service after the end of the Vietnam War — such as those deployed in Desert Storm, Iraq, and Afghanistan. It has been proven that continuing education and job placement after military service is crucial to healthy reintegration into civilian society. New York is home to 838,000 veterans.

Kristen L. Rouse, U.S. Army Veteran and Founding Director of NYC Veterans Alliance said of the expansion of Operation Recognition: “Servicemembers and veterans have answered our nation's call to service, and too often at the cost of their civilian education and career. We applaud the leadership of Assemblywoman Rozic and her work to ensure our most recent generations of veterans are duly recognized for their service by awarding them a high school diploma. When our nation's young men and women step up to serve on our behalf, we must do all we can to ensure they do not fall behind as a result of that service.”

Ryan Graham, Commander, Queens County Council of Veterans of Foreign Wars said of the study on Veteran Homelessness: “Veteran integration back into civilian life can be strenuous, looking for work, providing for their families, and securing a stable home. Unfortunately, homelessness rates among veterans have hit staggering figures, whether for those who have served recently during the Global War on Terror, as well as during previous eras and conflicts. Assembly Bill A5660, introduced by Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, not only brings this issue to light but delves deeply into finding the reasons behind Veteran homelessness in the State of New York, capturing and understanding the root causes, in being able to combat this issue currently and for future generations of warriors. The Queens County Council VFW applauds Assemblywoman Rozic for her advocacy on the Veteran front, serving those who have borne scars while serving in the United States Armed Forces.”

The reports will include information on the number of veterans who are homeless and analysis of gender as it relates to homelessness. It will also include data on the number of children of veterans who are homeless, the placement of such children, unemployment rates, and cases of military sexual trauma experience while on active duty.

According to the Veterans Alliance, on a single night in 2018, 37,878 veterans were experiencing homelessness nationally.

Rozic, who chairs the Office of State-Federal Relations, added, “Though homelessness among veterans in New York has slowly decreased over the years, local efforts to reduce the ongoing epidemic of homelessness are needed as federal funding remains uncertain.”

Previously, Rozic has highlighted Operation Recognition by awarding a diploma to Mr. George Abramowitz who served in World War II (pictured here with Assemblywoman Rozic, Regent Judith Chin, and Francis Lewis High School’s JROTC).