November 11, 2021
Albany, NY

On Veterans Day, Governor Hochul Signs Legislative Package to Protect and Support Veterans and Their Families

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On Veterans Day, Governor Hochul Signs Legislative Package to Protect and Support Veterans and Their Families
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Legislation S.7124A/A.7388B Conforms the Definition of a Veteran Serving in the Vietnam War Era

Legislation S.3623/A.7514 Allows Spouses to Receive Unemployment Benefits if a Military Spouse is the Subject of a Military Transfer

Legislation S.701A/A.1140A Creates the Women Veterans Advisory Committee to Support and Assist the Division of Veterans' Services in Locating, Educating, and Advocating for All Women Veterans in This State 

Legislation S.3638/A.7472 Establishes a Task Force on Veteran Employment Opportunities 

Legislation S.2977A/A.6100A Requires Homeless Shelters and Nursing Homes to Determine if Residents are Veterans to Connect Them with Benefits

Legislation S.7125/A.2658 Authorizes Westchester County to Waive Fees for Veterans' Organizations 

Legislation S.6452/A.3920 Enables Veterans and Reservists to Receive Benefit Information Upon Applying for or Renewing a Driver's License 

Legislation S.5245A/A.6249A Provides In-State Tuition Continuity at SUNY and CUNY for Spouses and Children of Active Duty Service Members 

Legislation S.5743A/A.6528A Helps Students Whose Parent or Guardian is Being Relocated to the State Under Military Orders Enroll in School Faster  

Legislation S.5543A/A.7685 Expands Those Eligible for Merit Scholarships

Legislation S.763/A.5447 Expands the Veteran's Eligible for Additional Credits for Civil Service Appointments and Promotions 

Legislation S.6535/A.4089 Allows Ferry Operators to Transport Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in Uniform Without a Fee

Follows Recent Appointment of Reverend Viviana DeCohen as Director of the New York State Division of Veterans' Services

Photos Are Available Here

Governor Kathy Hochul today signed a legislative package to support and protect veterans and their families.

"Our active service members and veterans have served a high calling to protect our democracy and freedoms, and now it is our turn to support them and their families," Governor Hochul said. "By signing these bills into law today, we are taking steps to ensure veterans and active duty military members have the benefits and resources they need, and the flexibility their circumstances require, to best take care of themselves and their families. New York's veterans stood up for us, and we will continue to stand by them."

Legislation S.7124A/A.7388B changes the beginning of the Vietnam War from February 28, 1961 to November 1, 1955. This change acts to acknowledge the American military presences in the Republic of Vietnam prior to the previous date recognized by the federal and state government. With the signing of this legislation, New York State's law conforms to federal government and will ensure New York's Vietnam veterans will receive the credit they deserve for serving in a time of war.  

Legislation S.3623/A.7514 ensures that individuals who voluntarily leave their jobs to accompany spouses who are subjects of military transfers will be eligible for unemployment benefits. 

Legislation S.701A/A.1140 creates the women veterans advisory committee whose purpose will be to support and assist the Division of Veterans' Services in locating, educating, and advocating for all women veterans in the State of New York. The committee will be comprised of 12 members: six to be appointed by the Governor, two to be appointed by the Temporary President of the Senate, two by the Speaker of the Assembly, one by the Senate Minority Leader, and one by the Assembly Minority Leader. Appointees must be women veterans of any branch, including the Reserves, who were honorably discharged or have a qualifying condition. 

Legislation S.3638/A.7472 establishes a task force on veteran employment opportunities. This group will be charged with holding annual public hearings and making recommendations to the legislature, regarding ways that the state can assist veterans in finding and maintaining meaningful employment opportunities. This task force will be comprised of stakeholders within state government, the private sector and institutions of higher education. 

Legislation S.2977A/A.6100A requires that all intake forms for admission or residency to any nursing home, assisted living facility or homeless shelter ask individuals whether they or their spouses ever served in the military. Identifying individuals who are veterans or spouses of veterans enables the state to help these individuals receive the benefits that they have earned and are entitled to receive.

Legislation S.7125/A.2658 authorizes Westchester County to waive certain fees for veterans' organizations. This waiver facilitates the construction and improvement of veterans' posts in the area so that veterans can experience a sense of community akin to what they experienced while active service members. 

Legislation S.6452/A.3920 enables veterans and reservists to receive benefit information upon applying for or renewing a driver's license. This will ensure veterans are aware of the benefits they may be entitled to under federal and state law. 

Legislation S.5245A/A.6249 provides in-state tuition continuity at SUNY and CUNY colleges for spouses and children of active duty service members following their stationing in New York.  

Legislation S.5743A/A.6528 allows for children of military families who are relocating under military orders to preliminarily enroll in the school at which they will be a student. This advanced enrollment ensures a smooth transition and eases the stress of missing classes and changing courses during the school year. 

Legislation S.5543A/A.7685 expands the State's Military Enhanced Recognition, Incentive and Tribute (MERIT) Scholarship by making it available to all families of fallen and disabled service members by removing the current requirement of military service occurring and after August 2, 1990 for their children and spouse to be eligible to receive such scholarship. 

Legislation S.763/A.5447 provides all men and women that have served with the ability to receive credits for civil service appointments and promotions by removing the restriction that only combat veterans can receive credits. 

Legislation S.6535/A.4089 authorizes a county board of supervisors to require ferries operating within said county to provide free transportation to any member of the United States armed forces in uniform during their enlistment. This waiver of fees is an act of thanks to the men and women who serve our country. 

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, “Today and every day, the Assembly Majority is committed to delivering our veterans and their families the support they need and the respect they deserve. These brave men and women sacrifice so much to serve our country, and my colleagues and I are grateful for their service. This package of legislation will go a long way in helping improve the lives of these selfless individuals.” 

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, "As the daughter and sister of veterans, I have a special spot in my heart for all veterans. Our veterans and active military personnel have made brave sacrifices to defend and preserve our nation's freedom. They answered the call to serve and we owe them a debt of gratitude. I would like to thank Governor Hochul for signing this package of bills on Veterans Day to help provide the services and support they have earned. Easing veterans' transition back to civilian life is a top priority for the Senate Democratic Majority, and this set of bills will advance that mission."

Senator John E. Brooks said, "On this day, we pause to recognize those who have served our country in the most honorable way, as veterans of our armed services. These men and women have committed themselves to safeguarding the liberty that we as Americans enjoy and I consider it a privilege to stand up for them in the NYS Senate as Chair of the Veterans Committee. I applaud Governor Hochul for addressing the unique needs of our veterans and honoring them today with the signing of these important pieces of legislation into law."

Senator Shelley B. Mayer said, "Veterans' organizations play a vital role in serving our veteran community. This law, which I sponsored in the Senate, will allow Westchester County to waive fees associated with veterans' organizations' capital improvements and make it easier for them to invest in their facilities—including increasing accessibility for aging veterans. These spaces are essential for allowing veterans to gather and maintain the sense of connection they had during active service. Although we can never fully repay them for their service, I am pleased we can support them with this new law. Thank you to my Assembly partner, Assemblymember Nader Sayegh, and to Governor Kathy Hochul for supporting this effort."

Senator Andrew Gounardes said, "Our veterans deserve a great deal of thanks, regardless of their combat status. When they come home and continue their public service by working in government, we should afford them the same benefits across the board to make it easier for them to continue to serve. I thank Governor Hochul for making this a priority."

Senator Peter Harckham said, "Our Veterans and their family members deserve all of the high-quality benefits available by federal and state law. I thank Governor Hochul for signing my bill that will ensure healthcare and residential care providers establish a person's veteran status on their intake forms. For many, this will increase healthcare coverage availability and help determine eligibility for appropriate services—a simple inquiry that will support the well-being of our Veterans and save lives in the long run."

Senator Anna M. Kaplan said, "Women who serve our country in the Armed Forces have earned more than just the admiration of a grateful community, they've earned the right to access programs and services that support them when they come home. Too often, women Veterans face barriers in accessing the services available to them, and we need to do better as a government when it comes to serving all of our heroes. I'm proud to have sponsored legislation creating New York's first formal Women Veterans Advisory Committee to support and advocate for women Veterans across the State, and I'm grateful to Governor Kathy Hochul for signing it into law and ensuring none of our Veterans fall through the cracks."

Senator Elijah Reichlin-Melnick said, "New York honors veterans and has some of the most robust support programs for veterans in the entire country. Unfortunately, many veterans are not aware of the wide array of services, supports, and benefits that are available to them here. I'm proud to have sponsored this bill which will require the DMV to help veterans understand the programs that New York has available to them, and also require the DMV to pass along the contact information of veterans to the Department of Veterans Services. While there is still work to do reaching veterans, this new tool in the toolbox will help connect more veterans to the benefits and services they deserve. I am thankful to Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz for championing this bill in the Assembly and to Governor Hochul for signing this important legislation."

Senator James Skoufis said, "We already ask so much of our military personnel, and they shouldn't have to jump through additional hoops to make sure their families feel stable and supported. By allowing students to register for school before they've arrived on post, we're paving the way for their future success. I am grateful to Governor Hochul for doing right by our military families."

Senator Rob Ortt said, "As a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, I know firsthand the sacrifices our veterans and their families have made in service to our nation. It is paramount that we as a state provide the resources necessary to assist military families here at home and ensure that we are supporting veterans with every opportunity to succeed once they exit our armed forces. I am proud to have sponsored two of these vital pieces of legislation and commend New York State for placing emphasis on helping our veterans prosper in their post-military careers."

Assemblymember Didi Barrett said, "On Veterans Day we historically honor our service members and their families for the sacrifices they have made in defending our country, so I am especially pleased that Governor Hochul chose today to reaffirm New York State's recognition of their service by signing into law legislation I spearheaded to expand eligibility for the MERIT Scholarship program, as well as legislation to change the start date of the Vietnam War, under NYS Law, from February 28, 1961 to November 1, 1955. Both of these bills enable more of our veterans and their families to access important state benefits. The MERIT Scholarship expansion—to increase the eligibility for severely and permanently disabled veterans and their dependents, dependents of service members deemed MIA, and more Gold Star Families—is long overdue. I am hopeful that these changes will encourage our veterans and their family members, who have already paid an incredibly high price, to realize their educational dreams." 

Assemblymember Peter Abbate, Jr. said, "I am proud to be the sponsor of this legislation that provides equity for all veterans to receive credits for civil service appointments and promotions. Our brave men and women who volunteer to serve and protect our great nation deserve these benefits. I commend Governor Hochul for signing this bill into law."

Assemblymember Edward Braunstein said, "As we honor those who serve our country this Veterans Day, I'm proud to see this bill to simplify school enrollment for military families signed into law. This legislation will help to alleviate the unique school enrollment challenges faced by military families and offer their children the best possible educational experience while they call New York State home. I thank Governor Hochul for signing this bill and Senator Skoufis for his partnership on this effort."

Assemblymember Marianne Buttenschon said, "My bill that was signed into law today helps provide a pathway to an affordable, quality higher education for aspiring students in military families. Many military members and their loved ones are familiar to relocations, but forcing a student in these cases to suddenly change their educational plans or pay expensive out-of-state tuition is simply unfair. Our service members and their families make tremendous sacrifices for our nation and deserve every opportunity to succeed. I'll continue to support them and fight to get them the resources they've rightfully earned."

Assemblymember Michael Cusick said, "Unfortunately our military veterans often do not take full advantage of the services available to them. Serving in the US Military entitles our vets to a wide variety of resources which can be extremely beneficial. Whether out of a lack of awareness or a lack of access, many of these resources often go untapped. Requiring resident facilities to inquire about prior military service on their intake forms will ensure that any veteran checking into one of these facilities will be identified and granted access to the resources and services available to them. Our veterans have sacrificed and given so much for our country and it is our responsibility to give them the resources they need. As we celebrate Veteran's Day I am thankful to Governor Hochul for signing this legislation out of a shared commitment to serve those who have served for us."

Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz said, "Far too often, veterans are unaware or unsure of benefits that are available to them. These are people who have courageously served our nation, and we should do everything we can to make sure each and every one of them are aware of the resources that our federal and state government are offering for veterans. Tasking the DMV with providing this information to anyone who requests a veterans designation on their state ID card is common sense. I am proud that my legislation, which passed unanimously through both chambers, has been signed into law by Governor Hochul."

Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus said, "Members of the military and their families sacrifice so much for our nation, including being willing to uproot their lives and move across the country when needed. The least we can do is provide the support and benefits they deserve to receive. This bill will correct an oversight in our unemployment system and ensure that military spouses who are forced to leave their job due to a reassignment are able obtain benefits while searching for a new job. I'm proud to have passed this bill and am thrilled that Governor Hochul is signing it into law on this Veterans Day as we honor our military heroes."

Assemblymember Nader Sayegh said, "Veterans' organizations play an important role in ensuring that veterans can continue to experience the sense of community they once felt as active service members. That is why I sponsored this legislation to assist veterans' posts when making capital improvements to their buildings, by enabling the Westchester County Legislature to waive many of the fees associated with construction projects. I thank Senator Shelley Mayer for sponsoring the bill in the Senate and applaud Governor Kathy Hochul for signing this legislation into law on Veterans Day."

Assemblymember Steve Stern said, "As a member of the New York State Assembly Committee on Veterans' Affairs, it is my privilege to work with and for the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much to protect our great nation and for their families. That's why I was so proud to sponsor and pass legislation creating a Veterans Employment Task Force to help veterans find and maintain good-paying jobs. When a soldier goes off to protect to our country, it is unacceptable that he or she should have difficulty obtaining meaningful employment when they come home. I thank Governor Hochul for signing this important legislation and I remain committed to ensuring that our veterans receive the recognition, support and services that they deserve."

Assemblymember Fred Thiele said, “Our nation’s brave military personnel put their lives at risk every day for our country. I am proud to have sponsored this legislation to allow local counties, when approving ferry rates, to provide free passage for these dedicated service members within New York State. I thank Governor Hochul for signing this legislation into law and honoring our courageous military personnel.”

Assemblymember Monica Wallace said, "Today, women account for about one in six service members, and nearly two million women have served our nation with honor and distinction. We owe it to them to help identify and address the challenges these brave heroes face upon returning to civilian life. This committee will ensure that veterans programs and services in New York meet the unique needs faced by women who have answered the call. I thank Governor Hochul for signing this vital legislation, and as always, I thank the courageous women and men who have selflessly put their lives on the line to defend our nation."

Contact the Governor’s Press Office

Contact us by phone:

Albany: (518) 474 - 8418
New York City: (212) 681 - 4640

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