New York Governor Kathy Hochul has taken significant steps to bolster support for veterans and their families by signing several impactful bills into law just ahead of Veterans Day, according to an announcement from her office on Friday.
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The legislative measures encompass a range of crucial provisions:
- Expanding the Definition of Veteran for Tax Exemption: One of the key initiatives involves refining the definition of a veteran to now include career members of the armed forces, specifically for tax exemption purposes.
- Free Access to State Parks and Facilities: The new laws extend free access to state parks, historic sites, and recreational facilities in New York for both veterans and members of Gold Star families, acknowledging and honoring their sacrifices.
- Support for Veteran-Owned Businesses: Within the framework of economic development, the bills mandate the small business revolving loan fund under New York’s Empire State Development Corporation to actively market to veteran-owned enterprises and service-disabled veteran-owned enterprises.
- Transparency in Housing Applications: Addressing housing concerns, the legislation requires the inclusion of information on the number of applicants identifying as veterans or surviving spouses of veterans on the Mitchell-Lama application waitlist. This transparency aims to provide clarity for applicants about the level of competition for housing.
- Dignified Handling of Deceased Veterans’ Remains: In a move emphasizing respect for those who have served, certain municipalities are now directed to engage with veterans’ organizations to facilitate the proper disposition of unclaimed remains of deceased veterans.
- Easing Employment Restrictions: The bills eliminate the “wartime service” requirement that previously restricted numerous veterans from seeking employment in specific civil service roles. This adjustment is anticipated to broaden the pool of eligible applicants.
- Launching VIP NY – A Veteran Internship Program: Recognizing the value of practical opportunities, the legislation establishes VIP NY, a veteran internship program. This program is designed to allocate 10% of available internships in the Assembly Youth Participation program and the Senate Student Program to eligible honorably discharged veterans.
Governor Hochul emphasized the significance of these legislative measures, stating, “We owe a debt of gratitude to the veterans who risked their lives to serve our country.” She highlighted that the enacted legislation is poised to provide essential resources and support to New York’s veterans, underscoring the commitment to honor their service and recognize their heroism.
For veterans seeking additional assistance, the state Department of Veterans’ Services stands as a vital resource. Having served as the state’s advocacy agency for veterans, service members, and military families since 1945, the department continues to play a crucial role in providing comprehensive support.