supporting military & veterans

New York City has a long history as a military town, and more than 220,000 veterans call this city their home. My eldest brother is a Non-Commissioned Officer in the U.S. Army which is why the military and veterans community is near and dear to my heart. More and more service members are moving to New York City – and we must do everything we can to support them as a way to honor their service.

As a member of the Assembly’s Committee on Veterans Affairs, I’ve worked tirelessly to pass legislation that helps veterans gain credit at CUNY and SUNY colleges, as well as pushed for an alternative resolution program for veterans and service members who are accused of certain felonies related to injuries from service.

But there is always more we must do. More than 40% of veterans using the Post-9/11 GI Bill to attend college in the city reside in New Jersey because housing costs are too high. Recently, a mishap with the Federal Veterans’ Affairs Department led to 15,000 students not receiving their stipends on time – putting their housing and academic success in jeopardy. This is absolutely unacceptable. I will act as a watchdog not just for municipal and state agencies, but also for federal programs that deeply impact our community – like the administration of the GI Bill. We must put Jobs and Justice first for America’s Heroes.

As Public Advocate, I will:

Support Veteran Treatment Courts (VTC’s):

Many of our young men and women return home from combat with invisible wounds of war. When veterans are accused of crimes related to their mental health, we should focus on rehabilitation instead of punitive punishments. VTC’s operate by allowing a judge to combine mental health counseling and substance abuse support with justice. As Public Advocate, I will push to expand access to Veteran Treatment Courts, which would put the focus on healing instead of perpetuating the cycle of poverty.

Include Service-Connected Disabled Veterans in City MWBE Goals:

Great strides have been made on behalf of MWBE contracting goals, but while the state has Service-Connected Disabled Veteran-Owned Business goals, New York City does not. As Public Advocate, I will push City Council to pass legislation that will include SCDVOB’s in city contracting goals so that we can create more jobs and businesses for veterans.

Propose a New York City Veterans Affairs Home Loan:

One of the most valuable benefits awarded to our military and veteran community is the Federally-backed VA Home Loan, allowing veterans and their families the ability to become homeowners. However, the VA Home Loan is designed for single-family homes, which will not work for New York City. As Public Advocate, I will work with NYC Department of Veterans’ Services (DVS) and Housing, Preservation and Development (HPD) along with City Council to create a NYC-specific home loan that includes condominiums and co-ops.