To borrow a saying from a friend, everyday should be Veterans Day! Those words certainly ring true in our community as Ozone Park, Howard Beach and the Rockaway Peninsula have an enormous population of veterans. It must be every day that I get the chance to say “thank you” to a man or woman who served in uniform. I cannot begin to describe how proud I am to have the honor to represent brave men and women who put themselves in harm's way, who stood up to fight for our freedom. It is because of them, and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, that we have the privileges awarded to us in the greatest country, the greatest state (and greatest Assembly District) in the world.
As we just commemorated Memorial Day, I thought about what we must continue to do for our veterans. When talking with a colleague, they asked why I wanted to sit on the NYS Assembly Veterans’ Affairs Committee. My answer was “why aren’t you? I am proud to support and make sure our service men and women are well represented in the State. Queens is proudly home to the most veterans in the five boroughs. We must ensure they are taken care of, celebrated and honored the best way we can.” That has been a goal I have set out to achieve as an Assemblywoman.
One of the biggest ways we have been doing that on a State level has been through elevating the New York State Division of Veterans’ Services to a full-fledged department. The reason this matters so much is because according to a report, only 17% of NYS veterans have access to benefits they deserve. New York has over 800,000 veterans and only a fraction of them receive services that have been created as a way to thank them, to help them and their families thrive. By creating a new department we will be able to help veterans, provide better care and services, and truly show that we value their service for our country. That is why we have pushed and fought to make the Division of Veterans’ Services the Department of Veterans' Services, and I am proud to report that it will come to fruition in April 2023.
In addition, I am advocating for a bill to help further deploy access to our veterans. Under my bill, A.10252, every State agency and division shall internally share information on who is a veteran in order to ensure they receive the full benefits they deserve. For example, if you are a veteran, the Department of Aging may not know that, or the Department of Finance, and you could be missing out on benefits you are entitled to. Under this bill, every agency will communicate with each other and programs and benefits provided by state agencies, boards, groups or commissions will become more readily available and easier to obtain. This will further allow our brave men and women the chance to utilize these benefits from veteran-related-programs.
As we honor our veterans and commemorate those we lost, let us take a moment to really thank them. Let us realize that without their willingness, their efforts, their courage and their sacrifice, along with that of their families, we would not have the joys and benefits we enjoy today.
As I go forward, I will continue to keep you all apprised of the developments and work being done. As always, do not hesitate to contact my office by phone at 718-945-9550 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is a pleasure to serve you and I look forward to representing you for many more years to come.