Yesterday the U.S. Department of Veterans' Affairs announced a plan to immediately slash the HUD-VASH program, a $265 million supportive housing voucher program intended to end veteran homelessness--until outcry from advocates and veterans organizations caused them to reverse that decision late last night. Although this shocking cut is off the table for right now, it will be back on the table for 2019. This is unacceptable and could potentially worsen the national scourge of veteran homelessness.
The NYC Veterans Alliance urges our community to call upon the VA and our Congressional delegation to protect the HUD-VASH voucher program in order to keep recently homeless veterans stable in permanent housing and to sustain a program that has effectively reduced veteran homelessness in NYC and nationwide.Read more
Starting on November 18, 2017, the NYC Human Rights law went into effect to provide new protections for veterans and servicemembers from discrimination in housing, employment, and places of public accommodation. Take a look at our Lunch & Learn conversation with the NYC Commission on Human Rights, NYC Department of Veterans' Services, and the NYC Veterans Alliance about this important new legislation, and see important details below:Read more
Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund Jumpstarts Challenge with a $50,000 Gift
In August, our members sounded the alarm on a proposal by the VA NY Harbor Healthcare System to close inpatient surgeries at the Brooklyn VAMC, which rallied local politicians to take action. We are proud to announce today that we've heard from Congressman Dan Donovan's office that this plan has officially been abandoned!
“We applaud the leadership of Congressman Donovan and the bipartisan advocacy of the many Brooklyn elected leaders who stood against closure and contraction of services at the Brooklyn VAMC," said Kristen Rouse, U.S. Army Veteran, Founding Director of the NYC Veterans Alliance, and Brooklyn resident. "As our leaders and our community are well aware, we must focus on improving VA care for our city's veterans, not reducing available options. We are pleased to see that the veterans who rely on the Brooklyn VA can rest assured that all existing services will remain open and available for them.”Read more
Yesterday we joined NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer for his announcement of a new partnership with RBC GAM Access Capital to create a first-of-its-kind program to support affordable housing for veterans in New York City. Each year at least $5 million will finance mortgages guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs to veterans and their families living in New York City. This is an encouraging move by NYC government, and one that we hope will increase the ability of veterans to access and use the VA Home Loan they've earned here in the city they call home.
On Monday, October 2, the NYC Council held an oversight hearing on the NYC Department of Veterans' Services (DVS). We offered testimony assessing the progress and budget of DVS for FY 2017 and the current FY 2018 budget year. Despite much needed and encouraging growth, our overall assessment is that this richly funded agency has demonstrated disappointing lapses in its basic responsibilities and is as yet failing to fully deliver on programs that highly paid staff have been working to deliver for many months.
For specifics, please see the testimony below of our Founding Director.Read more
COALITION TO PROTECT AMERICAN SERVICEMEMBERS CALLS ON PRESIDENT TRUMP TO RESCIND RESTRICTIONS ON TRANSGENDER TROOPS
NEW YORK, NY -- August 26, 2017 -- The Coalition to Protect American Servicemembers (CPAS), a group of organizations joining together in a nonpartisan effort, dedicated to honoring and protecting all those who have served and are currently serving in the military, today released the following statement in response to the announcement that President Donald Trump signed a policy memo restricting transgender individuals from serving in the military:
“We stand with SPARTA, a leading organization of LGBT servicemembers and veterans, and their statement: ‘As transgender service members, we are and have always been soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen first. We serve our country honorably, in good faith. Transgender service members are currently deployed to various locations around the world in defense of our Nation. The average transgender service member has eight years of service and served two or more deployments. Deployments are a staple of military life. Transgender service members have shown they are fully capable of doing the job they are called upon to do, and so we will continue until directed otherwise.’
In addition, we, the Coalition to Protect American Servicemembers, call on President Trump, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Defense to rescind this discriminatory policy and let our troops get back to focusing on their jobs.Read more
On Saturday, August 19th, we're convening a group of NYC Veterans Alliance members and supporters to commemorate the 241st anniversary of the Battle of Brooklyn, the largest battle of the American Revolution, with a 17.76-mile march (walk) through neighborhoods, parks, and historic sites in Brooklyn. We'll also be celebrating the 2nd birthday of the NYC Veterans Alliance, and we're asking for your support to help us continue growing into our third year!Read more
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.Read more
On August 8, 2017, the NYC Council Committee on Finance held a hearing on raising of the eligible income threshold for disabled and senior citizen homeowners qualifying for property tax exemption under the city's Disabled Homeowners Exemption and Senior Citizen Homeowners Exemption programs, of which many veterans take part.
Below is the testimony offered by our Director of Operations:Read more
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.Read more
On June 26, 2017, we held a press conference with Public Advocate Tish James and officials from the NYC Commission on Civil Rights and NYC Department of Veterans' Services celebrating the unanimous passage of Intro. 1259, which will protect veterans and servicemembers from discrimination in housing, employment, and other facets of life in NYC. Our members took the stage to talk about their personal experiences with pervasive discrimination, and why this law will make a tremendous difference in their lives:Read more
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!Read more
On June 20, 2017, the NYC Council Committee on General Welfare held a hearing on Int. 855-A, which proposes to automate access to services for the most vulnerable New Yorkers.
Below is the testimony of our Director of Operations:Read more
On June 20, 2017, the NYC Council held a hearing in consideration of the needs of veterans in small business. Below is the testimony of our Founding Director:
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.Read more
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:Read more
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.Read more
On April 29-30, we hosted more than 30 veterans and spouses at the first-ever NYC Veteran Candidate Workshop at Civic Hall, an intensive training event that included guest speakers, panels, and interactive conversations and activities with political and communications professionals and current and former elected officials.Read more
On Friday, April 28, 2017, the NYC Veterans Alliance, in partnership with Civic Hall and Veterans Campaign, hosted a Conversation on Service-Driven Political Leadership featuring Hon. Patrick Murphy, the first post-9/11 veteran elected to the U.S. Congress, and Hon. Charles Rangel, a decorated Korean War veteran who served 46 years in Congress.
Mr. Murphy talked with us about his service as a Solider in Iraq, followed by his service in the U.S. Congress from 2007 to 2011, as well as his work as Acting Secretary and then Undersecretary of the United States Army 2016-2017. Mr. Rangel told us some of his lesser-told stories of service in the Korean War, including his harrowing experience in the Battle of Kunu-ri and his actions as a private first class for which he was awarded a Bronze Star with Valor.
On April 29th and 30th, 2017, we will host the inaugural NYC Veteran Candidate Workshop in partnership with Veterans Campaign and Civic Hall. We will provide nonpartisan training for approximately 40 veterans and spouses from NYC and around the country to teach them the fundamentals of running for elected office.
CLICK HERE to help individual participants of our workshop as they "crowdraise" their tuition costs!
We've brought in a number of highly accomplished speakers, presenters, panelists, and distinguished visitors with diverse political and professional backgrounds to provide the highest quality training to our weekend participants:Read more
Press Release: NYC Veterans Alliance Kicks Off Inaugural NYC Veteran Candidate Workshop With Hon. Patrick Murphy & Hon. Charles Rangel
A Conversation on Service-Driven Political Leadership will kick off the NYC Veteran Candidate Workshop, Taking Place in the Heart of Manhattan in Partnership with Veterans Campaign and Civic Hall
NEW YORK - April 20, 2017 -- NYC Veterans Alliance, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization that empowers military veterans and their families to become politically active, in partnership with Veterans Campaign, a nonpartisan, non-ideological organization whose mission is to encourage, mentor, and prepare veterans for a “Second Service” in civic leadership, and with Civic Hall, a collaborative civic innovation center that advances the use of technology for the public good, are hosting “A Conversation on Service-Driven Political Leadership” on Friday, April 28 to kickoff their 2017 NYC Veteran Candidate Workshop at Civic Hall, 118 W. 22nd Street, New York, NY.
NYC Veterans Alliance today announced the Honorable Charles Rangel, Korean War veteran and one of the longest-serving members of Congress, and the Honorable Patrick Murphy, the first post-9/11 veteran to serve in U.S. Congress, former MSNBC host and contributor, and recent Acting Secretary and Undersecretary of the U.S. Army, will be headlining this event, which will be open to the public. As veterans who have served in U.S. Congress, Murphy and Rangel will lead an evening of conversation on service-driven political leadership discussing their experiences as candidates and public officials, and the importance of veterans serving in elected office.Read more
Throughout our history, the voices of our veterans and families have been essential in conversations on American democracy, governance, and the role of everyday Americans in protecting and preserving our values and systems of civil society. This is why we're proud to partner with the veterans and civilians of Aquila Theatre and The Warrior Chorus in their NYC production of Our Trojan War.
As part of our Civic Engagement program, we're organizing and leading "talk back" panels following each performance of this important and timely exploration of ancient and modern concepts of democracy, freedom, leadership, and citizenship. The play itself was crafted by veterans, and veterans are among the cast members. Our talk back conversations will be interactive with the audience on themes of the play. Please join us for these special performances and conversations with veteran artists, activists, and leaders! Ticket information is below.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NYC Veterans Alliance Hits Major Milestones in 2016, Realizes Multiple Legislative & Policy Victories and Doubles Membership
Announces Intersections International as Fiscal Sponsor
NEW YORK, NY – March 13, 2017 – NYC Veterans Alliance, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization that empowers military veterans and their families to become politically active through four engaging programs – Policy & Legislative Advocacy, OurVeterans.NYC, Civic Leadership, and Get Ready to Run – today announced significant Organization milestones as well as a fiscal sponsorship with Intersections International, a New York City-based nonprofit organization dedicated to building community relationships and forging common ground.Read more
We welcome veterans of any era and spouses from NYC and around the country, and regardless of political affiliation, to apply for our non-partisan workshop held in Manhattan on April 29-30.Read more
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.Read more
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:
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.
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:Read more
On Valentine’s Day, the NYC Veterans Alliance, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 72, Veterans of Foreign Wars Richmond County Council, Operation Warrior Shield, and other veterans, family members, service providers, and advocates rallied on the steps of City Hall to call on Mayor de Blasio and NYC elected officials to LOVE OUR VETERANS in the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget.Read more
We have work to do for veterans this month!
NYC government has entered the budget-making process for the 2018 fiscal year, which starts on July 1st. There is legislation on the table that needs to get passed. And more than anything, our City government needs to hear from veterans that we need them to not just tell us our service & sacrifice matter to them—they need to show us.
What can you do?Read more
On February 7, Adrienne Brammer, OurVeterans Program Manager, testified on behalf of the NYC Veterans Alliance in response to the recommendation in the VAB's annual report for NYC government to establish an ongoing community calendar for the veterans community. Adrienne outlined the value and milestones of the community calendar that the NYC Veterans Alliance has created and maintained since August 2015, which is now at www.ourveterans.nyc.Read more
UPDATE 1: Rally with us on Valentine's Day!
UPDATE 2: The Mayor heard you loud and clear! We have word that the Mayor is revising his budget proposal to restore the DVS staffing and funding to the same levels as the 2017 budget. We'll update our website and social media with details as we have them.
Yesterday, Mayor de Blasio released his administration’s preliminary budget for Fiscal Year 2018 (which begins on July 1st). This is the first step in the city’s process of putting resources behind its priorities. Unfortunately we see a strong statement here about NYC’s veterans, military members, and their families—less funding during a year when the city has had very strong tax revenues. Simply put, we just aren’t a priority in Mayor de Blasio’s budget.
We are immensely proud of our newest class of Get Ready to Run Fellows! January 6-9 was their challenge to push themselves through four days of intensive, long days and nights of training, networking, and working with their cohort members to grow and learn and develop as rising leaders getting ready to run for elected office.
We’re proud to announce our new cohort of “Get Ready to Run” Fellows who will be traveling to Washington, D.C., this Thursday for four days of intensive training on how to run for elected office!
On Thursday, December 8th, the NYC Veterans Alliance presented testimony at a joint hearing of the NYC Council Committee on Veterans and the Committee on Finance regarding Introduction 1304, which would amend the Alternative Tax Exemption for veterans to include exemption of NYC school taxes for eligible veterans. Below is the testimony of Kristen Rouse:
My name is Kristen Rouse. I am a veteran of the United States Army, I served three tours of duty with the Army in Afghanistan, and I live in Brooklyn. I am testifying on behalf of the more than 220 dues-paying members of the NYC Veterans Alliance.
Affordable housing is a top concern for all New Yorkers, but when we discuss veteran housing in particular—we’re often told to stand in line. Yet going back to the veterans who came home from World War II, veteran reintegration and housing have been intimately linked. Veterans returning home to New York City didn’t just have the G.I. Bill assurances of an education and guaranteed home loan—they also had more than 11,000 apartments in Peter Cooper Village built specifically for veterans and their families to give them the baseline stability they needed to get back to work and build this city’s economy and livelihood as what we now call the Greatest Generation. Yet since that tremendous investment for veterans—and its even greater payoff for New York City and America—our city just hasn’t made the same investment in its veterans.
Apply to join our next Get Ready to Run (GRTR) cohort! If you're a veteran, transitioning military member, or military/veteran spouse, domestic partner, or widow in the New York City Metro area -- you're eligible to apply!
The purpose of GRTR is to prepare men and women who are committed advocates for the veteran community to broaden their skills and knowledge in civic leadership.
We hope the end result is for members of our GRTR cohorts to run an effective campaign for public office (local, state, or U.S. Congress) within the next 2-5 years.
[Applications are Closed.]
We drafted and proposed this resolution in May in support of the bill that originated with our member, Kristofer Goldsmith and his DC-based nonprofit, High Ground Veterans Advocacy. It was introduced by Councilman Andy King earlier this month. The resolution urges Congress to pass, and the President to sign into law, the Fairness for Veterans Act of 2016, which would mandate a fair review process for veterans discharged administratively under less-than-honorable conditions, often for circumstances stemming from PTSD, traumatic brain injury, or sexual assault. Watch highlights of the hearing here:
On Friday, October 28, 2016, the NYC Veterans Alliance presented testimony at a hearing of the NYC Council Committee on Veterans regarding Resolution 1196, urging Congress to pass, and the President to sign into law, the Fairness for Veterans Act of 2016. Below is the testimony delivered by Kristen Rouse:Read more
New York State offers a reduction in assessed property value for veteran homeowners, with rates between 15% and 25% based on wartime and combat service eligibility criteria. In New York City’s five boroughs, this results in eligible veteran homeowners being told they “only have to pay school tax.” Yet those tax rates have ballooned by more than 60% since 2003; the current school tax rate (which veterans must pay) is 11.5%. A 2013 NYS law gave school districts the option of adopting the tax exemption for veterans, but that didn't include provisions for NYC to adopt this law. On September 29, 2016, Governor Cuomo signed into law a bill that finally permits the NYC Council to adopt the school tax exemption for NYC's veteran homeowners, which would provide significant relief.Read more
On September 17, 2016, the NYC Veterans Alliance joined VEThack, GORuck, and many other organizations as a partner in this annual event that unites our community in focusing attention on ending veteran suicide.
View our collection of member photos from this memorable day:Read more
Tomorrow’s election will decide the overall winners of the many New York State Senate and Assembly seats that are on the ballot this year, given that in many districts vote overwhelmingly for one party over another. While this may not be ideal—please go vote if your party has a primary ballot in your district!Read more
Today we were proud to stand with Public Advocate Tish James, Council Member Jumaane Williams, Commissioner Loree Sutton, and Commissioner Carmelyn Malalis to mark the introduction of the bill we drafted and proposed last spring to amend NYC's human rights laws to include protections for veterans and military members. The bill's language has been updated to summarize this as "uniformed service," and express the most inclusive definition possible. We approved this change within the last few weeks, and we are proud to be part of moving this legislation forward. Below is the statement of Founding Director Kristen Rouse at today's press conference at City Hall:Read more
On August 2, 2016, the NYC Veterans Alliance teamed up with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and NYC Votes to register new voters and inform voters on veterans issues. View our photos of this inspiring day:Read more
PROBLEM: New York State appears to offer a reduction in assessed property value for veteran homeowners, with rates between 15% and 25% based on wartime and combat service eligibility criteria. In New York City’s five boroughs, this results in eligible veteran homeowners being told they “only have to pay school tax.” Yet those tax rates have ballooned by more than 60% since 2003; the current school tax rate (which veterans must pay) is 11.5%. A 2013 NYS law, however, gives school districts the option of adopting the tax exemption for veterans, which NYC’s school district has not yet explored. Additionally, differences between property tax exemptions offered by NYS and NYC for veterans are confusing and difficult to understand.
PROPOSAL: The NYC Veterans Alliance proposes a working group to clarify existing NYS and NYC veterans property tax exemption policy and its impacts on qualifying NYC veteran homeowners and propose next steps to NYC and NYS officials to implement policies that achieve true tax relief for qualifying NYC veterans as intended by law.Read more
From our first policy agenda meeting last September to our Policy Design Workshop in December, follow-on group "Draft" workshops in January, and community responses to our 2016 surveys--it has been clear that veterans, military members, and their families are facing a wide range of challenges that can and must be addressed at the local level. But foundational to all of these issues is one key absence: veterans and military members are not included as protected categories of persons in NYC's human rights law.Read more
BREAKING!! Governor Cuomo has at last signed the Veterans Equality Act into law, rectifying NY State's pension system for veterans who have honorably served our nation in recent decades and across the globe. This comes after two vetoes and his office's lobbying against it. Our voices were heard, and we're proud to have been key players in this year's drive toward passing this legislation!
As part of our mission to empower NYC veterans, we invite our members to join our nonpartisan Get Ready to Run program! Whether you're already planning to run for elected office, or you're interested in becoming more engaged and informed as a civic leader, we hope you'll let us know below that we can include you as part of our program's contact list!Read more
The NYC Veterans Alliance is proud to announce our partnership with VoteRunLead to urge veterans and their spouses to get ready to run for elected office. Women in particular often need an extra push to view themselves as qualified, capable candidates, so we are truly thrilled to open up VRL’s daylong Dare to Lead women’s leadership conference to women who have served in any branch of the military, as well as women who are spouses (or widows) of a military member or veteran.