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:


 

intro1259.jpgWE 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!


nyc_raccoon.jpegOur 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.


cityhall_flag.jpgAfter 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:


rally_500.jpgA 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. 


meeting.jpgSince 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.

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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:

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by Ksenia Voropaeva and Molly Pearl

Ksenia and MollyIn 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:


This past Wednesday, it was announced that Bryan Doerries has been named the new Public Artist in Residence with the NYC Department of Veterans’ Services and NYC Department of Cultural Affairs on a 2-year grant of $1.3 million to fund artistic productions of ancient Greek drama that bring veterans and civilians together in community dialogue and healing.

Aquila Theatre's "Philoctetes"

NYC's Aquila Theatre produced Sophocles' "Philoctetes" with veterans as paid cast & contributors

We commend the NYC Department of Veterans’ Services for their commitment to promoting public dialogue on veterans issues through the arts. Those of us who have taken part in our community’s amazing and diverse artistic productions in recent years can attest to the transformative power of art and dialogue in our own lives. Yet we are concerned that this large grant and public program elevates an artist and production model that, although outwardly successful, are yet notable for specific problem areas:


by Olivia Meier

Olivia at Civic HallOn February 16, 2017, Olivia Meier, Operations Manager of the NYC Veterans Alliance, gave a short presentation at Civic Hall to share the Alliance’s mission and our partnership with Councilmatic. Below is a written version of her remarks.

Over the past two years, the NYC Veterans Alliance has had 4 main objectives: to maintain a hub of community information for NYC veterans, advocate for veterans & their families in NYC, create a nonpartisan training program to get veterans & spouses ready to run for office, and increase the level of civic engagement for our veterans community. All of this, while working to ensure that we are as inclusive an organization as we can be.