Cuomo, Hawley, Ortt praise service of veterans

Staff Reports Posted 11 November 2015 at 12:00 am

Governor Andrew Cuomo, State Sen. Robert Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, and State Assemblyman Steve Hawley, R-Batavia, have issued statements on Veterans Day, thanking veterans for their service to the country.

Cuomo: Honor ‘extraordinary sacrifices’ of veterans

It takes incredible courage to place the safety of others ahead of one’s own. Every day, members of our state and nation’s armed forces put on their uniforms and unflinchingly head towards danger. Our Veterans exemplify dedication, patriotism, and sacrificeand we owe them a debt that can never be repaid.

As we celebrate Veterans Day, we honor not only the extraordinary sacrifices they’ve made on our behalf, and their service here and abroad, but also the contributions they make to our communities once they return to private life.

Our administration’s commitment to Veterans is a solemn vow. One way we’re fulfilling this is by helping Veterans start businesses of their own. We’ve set a goal of 6% for participation in state contracts by small businesses owned by Veterans with service-connected disabilities. Since passing the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business Act in 2014, over 164 businesses have been certified, and a significant number of them are currently engaged in state contracts.

This is just one of a multitude of programs and benefits we provide for the roughly 900,000 Veterans living in New York. Today, I ask you to reach out to the Veterans in your life and thank them for all that they’ve given in uniform, and all that they do today for those who are home.

New York is one community and one family. Together we hope and pray for the safe return of our military men and women serving around the world. Above all, we remember those who have paid the ultimate price to protect our freedom and security.

To our Veterans and military families, on behalf of all New Yorkers, thank you.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Hawley: Veterans deserve gratitude

We owe the men and women of the armed forces our sincere gratitude. Their courage and bravery have ensured that we remain a free nation and safe from threats, both foreign and domestic. As a veteran of the Ohio Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserves, as well as the son of a veteran, I know the sacrifices and determination it takes to serve in our country’s military. The U.S. is the greatest military power the world has ever seen, and that honor is owed in large part to the brave servicemen and women who have sustained our freedom over the past 239 years.

As Ranking Minority Member of the Assembly Veterans Affairs Committee, I have strived to give our veterans and active duty military members a voice in Albany. I beseech all my constituents and New Yorkers across the state to join me in celebrating Veterans Day on Wednesday by thanking a veteran and taking a moment to reflect on those who have perished while defending our freedoms.

State Assemblyman Steve Hawley

Ortt: Serving veterans is a top priority

I’d like to take a moment to wish you a heartfelt Veterans Day. Throughout Western New York, we have thousands of heroic men and women who served their country and to them, I say, thank you. Thank you for all you’ve done to strengthen the United States, protect our liberties, and preserve peace across the globe.

As your State Senator, I’ve made veterans issues one of my top priorities in Albany. Here’s a summary of some of our recent work on this critical issue:

Cell Phones For Soldiers

As we approach the upcoming holidays, it’s important to remember and honor the men and women in the U.S. Armed Forces who have served and continue to serve our great nation. I recently teamed up with AT&T and the nonprofit Cell Phones For Soldiers asking the community to help troops call home by donating cellular phones and tablets.

Proceeds from the recycled devices are used to buy long distance calling cards for troops at home and abroad. I know from personal experience that staying connected to your loved ones while serving in the military helps the day pass, and makes time away from home a little bit easier. I’m privileged to be a part of this initiative in support of our troops to help keep our heroes connected.

Through December 7, on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, area residents and businesses can donate their unwanted cell phones and/or tablets at the following locations:

* Senator Ortt’s District Office: 175 Walnut St., Suite 6, Lockport
* Hoag Library: 134 S. Main St., Albion
* Lockport DMV Office: 111 Main St., Suite G1, Lockport
* Niagara County Veterans Service Agency: 111 Main St., Suite 200, Lockport
* Niagara Falls Housing Authority: 744 10th Street, Niagara Falls
* North Tonawanda DMV Office: 500 Wheatfield St., North Tonawanda
* Seymour Public Library: 161 East Ave., Brockport
* All AT&T Stores in WNY including: 5724 S. Transit Rd., Lockport / 8292 Niagara Falls Blvd., Niagara Falls Niagara Falls Blvd., Tonawanda / 1741 Sheridan Dr., Tonawanda / 8200 Transit Rd., Amherst / Galleria Mall, 1 Walden Galleria Dr., 2nd Floor, Cheektowaga / 4900 Transit Rd., Depew / 3505 Amelia Dr., Orchard Park

Dwyer Expands in Western New York

We secured many legislative and budget victories for our veterans this past year including $800,000 for post-traumatic stress treatment and support, $250,000 for the American Legion Department of New York to provide burial services for indigent veterans, and $500,000 for the New York State Defenders Association’s Veteran’s Defense Program.

But, I’m especially proud that we expanded the successful Joseph P. Dwyer Veteran Peer-to-Peer Program and brought it to Niagara County. The Dwyer program connects veterans coping with the effects of PTSD and TBI with other veterans in a secure, comfortable atmosphere.

Whether it’s talking to a fellow soldier, or not having to worry about the stigma associated with seeking help, Dwyer offers critical benefits to veterans in need. While we’ve drawn down our military presence overseas, we have a generation of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with physical and emotional scars that they carry with them every single day. We cannot allow them to carry those scars and that burden alone.

WNY Warriors Flight

Several weeks ago, I was honored to lead two dozen local veterans in an inaugural Western New York Warriors Flight to Washington, D.C to visit several war memorials dedicated in their honor. This trip allowed members of the Greatest Generation, who are now in their 80s and 90s, and other generations of Americans who have served our country, to travel to the nation’s capital to see their monuments for the first time.
Prior to take off, the American Legion Stephen Sikora Post 1322 held a special sendoff ceremony at the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport for the 24 World War II and Korean War veterans on the Warriors Flight. Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) and Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) welcomed us to D.C.

We later visited the National WWII Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Iwo Jima Memorial, the “Changing of the Guard” ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, among other notable sites. At the WWII and Korean War memorials, the group participated in an emotional wreath laying ceremony. The trip concluded with a salute to the veterans from the Patriot Guard Riders as they welcomed them home at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

The WNY Warriors Flight was made possible with a $20,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation, making the trip free for the veterans. Other partners included the Niagara USA Chamber of Commerce and Health Systems Services, which lent the vets wheelchairs. I also want to thank the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, Transportation Security Administration, and Southwest Airlines for their friendly cooperation. This Warriors Flight was an excellent way for us to honor our veterans and I hope to turn this into a tradition moving forward.

In honor of Veterans Day, please take a moment to thank a veteran for his or her service. I hope to see you at one of our community’s numerous veterans ceremonies.

Faithfully yours,
Robert G. Ortt
State Senator, 62nd District