By Assemblyman Will Barclay
On Veterans’ Day, the kids will have the day off from school and there will be any number of bargains advertised. There is even camouflage ice cream this year. Amid the hype and pre-holiday shopping craze, it’s important to remember the spirit of the day. Young and old, there are many veterans in our local communities and it’s important to show our gratitude.
The U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs estimates that there are 892,221 veterans in New York State and nearly 22 million veterans across America. From World War II to present-day battles, veterans return home shaped by their experience. They deserve our gratitude and respect.
There are a number of benefits veterans can take advantage of, from education to property tax relief.
Discounted hunting and fishing licenses are available to veterans who have a 40% disability.
The Homes for Veterans Program offers fixed-rate mortgages with slightly reduced interest rates and closing cost assistance.
Disabled Veteran E-Z Pass program is available to disabled veterans who qualify, and some are able to obtain a fee-exempt vehicle registration from the State Department of Motor Vehicles.
This fall, New York launched a State Recruitment Resources Center, an online recruitment tool for job seekers to upload their resumes to apply for civil service positions without a written examination.
Persons and veterans with disabilities will be given preference.
To learn more, visit www.cs.ny.gov/rp55/
For those veterans interested in pursuing a college education or vocational training program, there are tuition awards.
The maximum annual full-time award for the 2014-15 academic year was set at $6,195.
For part-time students, awards are prorated by credit hour.
There is a military service recognition scholarship which provides financial aid to veterans, children, spouses and financial dependents of members of the U.S. Armed Forces who, while New York state residents, died or became severely or permanently disabled while engaged in hostilities.
This award covers up to four years of full-time undergraduate study and includes either the actual tuition charged to the student at a SUNY or CUNY institution, or allowance equal to that amount for study at a private institution.
More information on any of these programs can be found at http://veterans.ny.gov
While these are noteworthy benefits, more still needs to be done for veterans in New York.
I sponsor legislation that would establish the G.I.V.E Back NY program (Giving Internships for disabled Veterans not fully Employed), a pilot initiative that would set aside 10% of Assembly Session Internships and Senate Student Program spots for service-disabled veterans.
No one is more deserving of an inside look at our government than the brave men and women who already served and sacrificed to protect our freedoms.
We also need to pass A.9899, a bill that would provide an array of benefits to active duty and retired members of the National Guard and Reserves.
The legislation would enhance pay, create further property tax breaks, provide tuition benefits and grant free access to state parks.
I’ll be pushing for this in the Assembly again during this upcoming session.
To learn more about veterans’ benefits, visit the State Division of Veterans Affairs at http://veterans.ny.gov/ and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs at http://www.va.gov
If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office.
My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.