Policy & Legislative Advocacy Program
Our members & team advocate for and support improved policies and legislation to improve the lives of veterans, servicemembers, and their families in NYC and beyond.
Veterans of any service era or discharge status, servicemembers, family members, service providers, and civilian allies are all invited to join and participate as members. JOIN US HERE
Learn more about our Policy & Legislative Advocacy work below:
An alarming business plan to reduce critical services for veterans at the Brooklyn VA Medical Center (VAMC) is being circulated amongst the NYC veterans community this week, and we urge our community and elected officials to take note and voice concern.
In the business plan, the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System proposes to change its Brooklyn campus surgery office from “Complex” to “Ambulatory Advanced,” stating that the current Brooklyn inpatient surgical cases can be accommodated at the Manhattan VAMC without affecting access to care or wait times. This effectively ends surgical services at the Brooklyn VAMC. The business plan is signed by NYHHS Director Martina Parauda, with an implementation date of July 1, 2017. It is unclear how much of the plan has been implemented to date.
Recent contraction of VA services in Brooklyn has already been very concerning. In 2015, the Brooklyn VAMC closed a 25-bed inpatient wing because it was too expensive to staff and keep open, despite outcry from Staten Island and Brooklyn veterans who rely on the Brooklyn VAMC. Last year, the Harbor Healthcare System closed an outpatient facility on Chapel Street in Downtown Brooklyn, which many underserved veterans relied on for a sense of community as well as meals and ongoing healthcare. Patients were assured that there would be regular shuttle bus service to bring them to Manhattan, but we’ve heard anecdotally that those shuttle buses were not adequate to provide Brooklyn patients with access to the Manhattan VAMC.
When we founded the NYC Veterans Alliance just two years ago, we committed to the inclusion of ALL veterans--we leave no veterans behind. We've stood in defense of veterans with bad paper. We've stood up for lesbian, gay, and bisexual veterans who were unjustly discharged. And last week we stood up for the transgender troops who are serving honorably across the world, as well as the countless numbers of transgender veterans who deserve recognition and respect for their service to our nation.
WE DID IT! Intro. 1259 is our FIRST BILL to originate with our membership--and it was passed today by NYC Council! 1259 was developed by our team, brought to introduction, pushed by our membership, opened to hearing, and finally voted to passage today thanks to the hard work of our members and team. We give our hearty thanks and congratulations to all of our members who gave input, took action, and supported our efforts with your dues and donations. This would not have been possible without you!
Our city protects New Yorkers from discrimination against their age, citizenship, color, disability, gender, gender identity, marital or partnership status, national origin, pregnancy, race, religion, or sexual orientation. Our laws also prohibit employment discrimination based on arrest or incarceration record, caregiver status, or credit history. NYC government even has a new poster campaign showing that raccoons are also New Yorkers.
After negotiation with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration, the NYC Council announced today that the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget is now finalized.
Earlier this year we set a Spring Agenda that included protecting and increasing NYC's budget for veterans, and adoption of a needed exemption from rising school taxes for veteran homeowners. We're both proud and grateful to our members and allies who helped us achieve results for our community.
Take a look at what's in the new budget for veterans, which will take effect on July 1, 2017:
A key piece of our Spring Policy Agenda was inclusion of the Alternative (School Tax) Exemption for Veterans in the city's budget for Fiscal Year 2018--and we're proud to announce that this was included in the final $85 billion budget deal reached by the Mayor and NYC Council last Friday evening!
Thanks to our member, Vietnam veteran, longtime advocate, and proud Staten Islander Lee Covino for leading the charge on this. Thanks to everyone who lobbied with us this spring, who rallied with us at the "Love Our Veterans" Rally on Valentine's Day, who testified and rallied and supported this legislative effort last December, who called and wrote letters to their representatives last fall, and who initially met with us at our stakeholder meeting on this important issue last July.
Special thanks to Council Member Steven Matteo for leading on this in NYC Council and his continuous advocacy for the more than 58,000 veteran homeowners who will now be entitled to long overdue tax relief.
Since the kickoff of our Spring 2017 Policy Agenda with our Lobby Week and “Love Our Veterans” Rally in February, we’ve been pushing NYC Council Members to support our priorities by email, direct mail, and in-person meetings with Council Members and staff. Here’s a preliminary update on how we’re doing on each of our agenda items and how you can help:
1. Protect the Budget for NYC Department of Veterans’ Services:
Update: In FY 2017, $2.9 million was allocated for 35 staff members to launch NYC’s newest agency. The Mayor’s initial budget proposal for FY 2018 reduced that amount by one staff member and $318k. Following our community’s outrage, his office announced that the position and funding will be restored in his Executive Budget that will be released in May 2017. We have been urging NYC Council members—in our public testimonies and private meetings—to likewise protect this funding level in further budget negotiations to ensure that the budget passed this June will reflect $2.9 million for DVS. We are continuing to monitor this.
On Monday, March 6, the City Council’s Veterans Committee held their preliminary budget hearing on funding for the Department of Veterans Services. Commissioner Loree Sutton of the Department of Veterans’ Services testified before the Committee, as did Kristen Rouse, Founding Director of the NYC Veterans Alliance, and Barbara Johnson Stemler, Senior Manager of Access Programs at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum.
On Monday, March 6, 2017, the NYC Veterans Alliance presented testimony at the Preliminary Budget Hearing held by the NYC Council Committee on Veterans. Below is the prepared testimony of Kristen Rouse on behalf of the Alliance:
by Ksenia Voropaeva and Molly Pearl
In January, we selected six veterans and one veteran spouse & caregiver as Fellows in our Get Ready to Run program and brought them to Washington, D.C., for four days of intensive training on how to run for elected office. This is a year-long Fellowship, and our Fellows continue to be involved and grow as leaders and advocates. Some of our Fellows were part of our Lobby Week last month. Here’s what two of them had to say about it:
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