Hochul signs legislative package to assist veterans and their families

Posted 11 November 2021 at 1:52 pm

Press Release, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Office

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 twelve 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.

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 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.”