Our Latest

Testimony on Toxic Exposure Research Act and Burn Pit Legislation

On April 21, the NYC Veterans Alliance presented testimony before the NYC Council Committee on Veterans on proposed Resolution 579-A calling on Congress to pass and the President to sign the Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015. We were the only organization other than the Vietnam Veterans of America to present testimony at this hearing, and the testimony itself was followed by an informative, in-depth discussion of the toxic exposures of Vietnam, Desert Storm, and OEF/OIF veterans.

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Update on Closure of VA Healthcare Center at 25 Chapel Street in Brooklyn

Today the Executive Director of the VA’s NY Harbor Healthcare System, Martina Parauda, spoke at the Veterans Forum held at the VA’s Healthcare Center at 25 Chapel Street, Brooklyn. Several months ago, NYHHS announced that they would be potentially closing the Healthcare Facility at 25 Chapel Street; today Ms. Parauda announced that they had received approval from the VA higher-ups in Washington, DC, to proceed with a plan to close this facility as  of June 30, 2016.

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Preliminary Results: 2016 NYC Veterans Surveys

Thanks to everyone who has already responded to our 2016 NYC Veterans Surveys! We hope that more veterans and spouses/partners in NYC, Long Island, Westchester, North Jersey, and Hudson Valley will take our surveys to better inform us (and our partner organizations) about what they’re experiencing. Our survey data will go directly toward improving policies and making resources more accessible for veterans, military members, and their families in the NYC area.

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GRTR March 2016 - Success!

The weekend of March 18-22 was the official launch of our Get Ready to Run initiative, which took four NYC veterans on a four-day trip to Washington, D.C. The program will involve follow-on support and training for these four veterans, as well as future cohorts that we select, train, and support.

Watch and listen to what our four future candidates have to say about their Get Ready to Run experience during their visit to the Newseum:

 

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Will Gov. Cuomo Fail Veterans Again?

Governor Cuomo vetoed the Veterans Equality Act just before Veterans Day last year--the second year in a row after our state lawmakers passed near-unanimous, bipartisan bills to update New York's outdated and unfair rules for career civil servants to "buy back" up to three years of pension credit in exchange for their honorable military service. Right now he has a chance to remedy this--but will he fail us yet again?

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GRTR March 2016 - Success!

The weekend of March 18-22 was the official launch of our Get Ready to Run initiative, which took four NYC veterans on a four-day trip to Washington, D.C. The program will involve follow-on support and training for these four veterans, as well as future cohorts that we select, train, and support.

Watch and listen to what our four future candidates have to say about their Get Ready to Run experience during their visit to the Newseum:

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March 2016 - Meet Our Cohort

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When we served in the military, we relied on our ability to work with others to accomplish the mission. It didn't matter what anyone's politics, religion, background, or other personal attributes were--we were all in it together to serve our country and represent America's best values and leadership in the world. Now that we're home, we're still ready to serve. And as veterans, we're perfectly prepared to work with people who may be very different from us to do the very best we can for our community, our city, and our country. We're not afraid of a challenge, and we're ready and willing to lead.

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2016 NYC Veterans Surveys

cover_small.jpgThe NYC Veterans Alliance, in partnership with Pathfinder, is pleased to release an important set of surveys that will help to assess the needs of the NYC veterans community. If you’re a veteran or military member, student veteran, or spouse or domestic partner of a veteran or military member in NYC or the NY Metro area, we hope you'll provide critical input on specific issue areas.

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Another Bill Signed, Another Pen for the NYC Veterans Alliance!

Another proud day for the NYC Veterans Alliance: we received our second bill-signing pen!

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This morning, Mayor de Blasio signed yet another bill we've supported into law. This is the FIFTH local law that the NYC Veterans Alliance helped to push through since we started last year, and we were the only organization in the room who actively advocated for its passage.

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Affordable Housing & Mental Health Committees: "Draft Day"

On Saturday, January 30, we invited veterans and civilians to join us at Civic Hall for a "Draft Day" to get into the details of the policy solutions we want to see addressing Affordable Housing & Homelessness Prevention (in the morning) and Mental Health & Suicide Prevention (in the afternoon).

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Standing Up for Veterans: Our Community Reintegration Initiative

In early 2015, Mayor de Blasio touted his commitment to ending veteran homelessness as part of the Obama administration’s initiative (and large-scale funding) to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. NYC government lagged in its efforts to find appropriate affordable housing to allow a sufficiently large number of homeless veterans to move from the crowded, inadequate conditions of NYC’s homeless shelters. In late 2015, HRA made last-minute deals for veteran housing that have drawn anger and frustration from local communities and jeopardized the success of veteran reintegration into these communities.

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Testimony on Oversight of the Veterans Advisory Board: Impacts of Last Year's Reforms

On Wednesday, January 13, the NYC Veterans Alliance presented testimony before the NYC Council Veterans Committee on the performance of the Veterans Advisory Board since reform legislation was passed in February 2015:

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Policy Design Workshop

On Monday, members of the NYC Veterans Alliance convened at Civic Hall to workshop and discuss policy issues and solutions. We were joined by Commissioner Loree Sutton of the Mayor's Office of Veterans Affairs and members of the Civic Hall community.

Below is a letter from Samuel Innocent, Director of Policy, to the members of the NYC veteran alliance breaking down the magic that occurred Monday night and to share the results:

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2016 Policy Agenda Survey

In December 2015, we asked the NYC veterans community to take our 2016 Policy Agenda Survey to help us assess the priorities we should focus on as we develop our 2016 Policy Agenda. The topics listed were based on the issues raised during our First Policy Agenda Meeting in September. The survey had 82 respondents, and they identified as follows:

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NYC Department of Veterans Services (DVS) Becomes Law!

On Thursday, December 10, veteran leaders and advocates from across NYC were invited to attend a ceremony aboard the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, where Mayor Bill de Blasio at last signed into law the bill creating a NYC Department of Veterans Services (DVS).

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Testimony on Discharge Upgrades for Gay and Lesbian Veterans

On December 14, 2015, the NYC Veterans Alliance testified in favor of the NYC Council Committee on Veterans resolutions in support of the Restore Honor to Service Members Act, which is federal legislation proposing to automatically upgrade adverse discharges for veterans for no other reason than homosexual conduct, and New York Restoration of Honor Act, which would automatically extend NY State benefits for honorably discharged veterans to those adversely discharged for homosexuality.

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Veterans Included in Mental Health "Roadmap"

Today First Lady Chirlane McCray is announcing the details of her Thrive NYC Roadmap for NYC mental health services. This was anticipated earlier this year, but at last comes with a number of initiatives—and among them, veteran-specific initiatives that are promising steps forward for NYC veterans, service members, and their families. We are pleased that the NYC Veterans Alliance had input in this important set of initiatives, and that some of our recommendations from earlier this year will at last be implemented.

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Veteran Street Vendor Committee Meeting with Council Member Ulrich

On Wednesday, November 18, the NYC Veterans Alliance Street Vendor Committee, in partnership with Veterans 4 Veterans NYC, Inc., met with Council Member Eric Ulrich, Chair of the City Council’s Committee on Veterans, to discuss needed reforms for NYC’s veteran street vendors. CM Ulrich was receptive and empathetic to the concerns and recommendations of the group, which included five seasoned veteran street vendors who represented a range of experience with vending food and merchandise using the city’s variety of permits available to veteran vendors. The meeting explored several potential legislative remedies to the current problems encountered by veteran vendors.

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Concerns About the Post-Reform Veterans Advisory Board

Earlier this year, we were part of the push to reform the NYC Veterans Advisory Board in order to make it more truly representative of NYC veterans and also transparent, with published meeting announcements and minutes of meetings so that the NYC veterans community can understand what the VAB is doing on their behalf.

The nomination and appointment process remains opaque, but we have been encouraged that the VAB has been making progress in becoming the representative advisory board intended by the City Charter--until yesterday. Mid-afternoon on Monday, November 16, the Mayor's Office of Veterans Affairs announced that the next VAB meeting would be held in Queens--just a few hours following the announcement. This was absurdly short notice for anyone from our community to be able to attend.

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A Great Week for NYC Veterans and the NYC Veterans Alliance!

Veterans Week was a banner week for the NYC Veterans Alliance!

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Testimony on Ending Veteran Homelessness

On Thursday, November 12, the NYC Veterans Alliance presented testimony before the City Council's Committee on General Welfare and Committee on Veterans related to the oversight of the city's efforts to end veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. Founding Director Kristen Rouse presented the organization's testimony, and member LaTasha Peeler provided her own vital testimony about her experience as a formerly homeless veteran. 

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VETO of 2015 Veterans Equality Act

In an overnight veto on October 26, Gov. Andrew Cuomo once again squashed a bill that was passed unanimously in the NY State Senate and had only one dissenting vote in the Assembly. As a result:

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Asking Questions at the VFW Queens County Council Legislative Breakfast

Yesterday was the 51st Annual Queens County Council Legislative Breakfast hosted by the Queens County Council of the VFW. Ryan Graham, Commander of the Queens County Council, coordinated the event and made sure veterans citywide were invited to attend. Special thanks to Ryan for inviting NYC Veterans Alliance leaders and members.

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Urging Governor Cuomo to Sign the Veterans Equality Act

Today Governor Cuomo received the Veterans Equality Act from the NY State Senate, giving him ten days to either sign or veto it. Please call Governor Cuomo's office at 518-474-8390 (select option 3) to urge him to sign it into law. We sent him the following letter:

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Testimony on Making NYC Parks More Affordable to Veterans

On Friday, October 2, Samuel Innocent testified before the NYC Council Committee on Parks and Recreation in favor of Introduction 856, which would make NYC parks more affordable to veterans by discounting recreational facility fees:

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Transcript: First Policy Agenda Meeting

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On September 21, 2015, the NYC Veterans Alliance held its First Policy Agenda Meeting at Civic Hall. Thanks to volunteer Meaghan S., we have a transcript of what was discussed at the meeting.

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Community Mental Health Summit at the Manhattan VAMC

On Monday, September 21, the Manhattan VA Medical Center held its annual Community Mental Health Summit, where VA administrators sought to improve understanding and communication between the VA and service providers and veterans within the community. The event was held in Atrium A (the main conference center), and was well-attended by a large audience made up mostly of service providers from non-VA programs and nonprofits in the area. The program as a whole was informative and interactive, but left us with many questions about how much community input would go toward actual changes at the Manhattan VAMC, or whether there will be follow-up with community members about what was discussed.

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Testimony by the Veteran Advocacy Project on Veterans in the Criminal Justice System

On September 18, our partners at the Veteran Advocacy Project at Urban Justice Center testified in favor of Introduction 793, a bill proposed by the City Council Committee on Veterans that would create a task force to study and report on veterans in the NYC criminal justice system. This testimony highlighted key points about veterans in the criminal justice system that were vital to expressing the importance of this bill. We encourage our community to take note.

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Testimony on Veterans in the Criminal Justice System

On Friday, September 18, the NYC Veterans Alliance testified in favor of Introduction 793, a bill proposed by the City Council Committee on Veterans that would create a task force to study and report on veterans in the NYC criminal justice system.

 

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Mayor de Blasio Blasted on Homelessness--But What About Veterans?

The New York Post has recently blasted Mayor de Blasio on his handling of the spike in homelessness in NYC, and on Monday de Blasio's top aide on health and human services stepped down--the highest ranking resignation in thus far in the de Blasio administration. The Post has also accused de Blasio of shortchanging programs aimed at bringing veteran homelessness to zero before the end of this year. What's really going on?

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Full Recap: Forum on NYC Veterans Policy

Thanks to everyone who came to our first event, the Forum on NYC Veterans Policy. Your attendance, support, and participation made it a tremendous success. If you couldn't make it, be sure to view the photos and audio clips below to share in this informative, insightful, and community-building event. We hope to see you next time.

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Photo by Omar T. Columbus for the NYC Veterans Alliance
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Celebrating a Win: IDNYC for Veterans

There are many issues we've brought up and discussed about NYC veterans, but it's always a great day when we can celebrate a win, connect with City officials, and also visit with great organizations and veterans who are active with our community.

Our report last month, Change is Essential, showed that veteran designation on IDNYC cards is important to our community, and we recommended that the IDNYC define veterans according to the inclusive definition of the City Charter. Although veteran designation on IDNYC cards has been in the works for some months, our survey and recommendation helped to push this program to its final implementation as a high-quality, inclusive program for NYC's veterans.

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John Oliver at the Forum on NYC Veterans Policy

John Oliver speaks about his experience as the husband of an Army veteran who served in Iraq at the Forum on NYC Veterans Policy at the New York Public Library. It's too easy, he says, to just say "thank you" to veterans without making the changes needed to the infrastructure that should be taking care of them.

 

Forum on NYC Veterans Policy

Presented by the NYC Veterans Alliance

July 28, 2015 at the New York Public Library

Panel Discussion: Veteran Advocacy

Moderator Phoebe Gavin (U.S. Army, Iraq Veteran) introduces panelists Lee Covino (U.S. Army, Vietnam Veteran), Coco Culhane (Civilian, Founder of Veteran Advocacy Project), Brett Morash (U.S. Navy, Pre- and Post-9/11 Veteran), Tireak Tulloch (U.S. Marine Corps, Iraq Veteran), and Vadim Panasyuk (U.S. Army, Iraq Veteran). Panelists discuss getting involved in veteran advocacy.

Forum on NYC Veterans Policy

Presented by the NYC Veterans Alliance
July 28, 2015 - New York Public Library

Panel Discussion: NYC Veterans

Moderator Phoebe Gavin discusses the current state of affairs for NYC veterans with panelists Lee Covino, Coco Culhane, Brett Morash, Tireak Tulloch, and Vadim Panasyuk. Topics include veteran homelessness, the need for cohesive programs acting as a social safety net for veterans, the needs of different generations of veterans, and how defining "veteran" limits access to services and programs.

Forum on NYC Veterans Policy

Presented by the NYC Veterans Alliance
July 28, 2015 - New York Public Library

Panel Discussion: Veteran Activism

Moderator Phoebe Gavin discusses veteran activism with panelists Lee Covino, Coco Culhane, Brett Morash, Tireak Tulloch, and Vadim Panasyuk. Topics include post-9/11 veterans organizing together, veterans engaging civilians, and ways to engage family members and the broader community.

Forum on NYC Veterans Policy

Presented by the NYC Veterans Alliance
July 28, 2015 - New York Public Library

Panel Discussion: Veteran Homelessness

Moderator Phoebe Gavin discusses the ongoing challenges of veteran homelessness in NYC with panelists Lee Covino, Coco Culhane, Brett Morash, Tireak Tulloch, and Vadim Panasyuk.

Forum on NYC Veterans Policy

Presented by the NYC Veterans Alliance
July 28, 2015 - New York Public Library

Panel Discussion: Veterans at Risk

Moderator Phoebe Gavin discusses how to better serve at-risk veterans with panelists Lee Covino, Coco Culhane, Brett Morash, Tireak Tulloch, and Vadim Panasyuk.

Forum on NYC Veterans Policy

Presented by the NYC Veterans Alliance
July 28, 2015 - New York Public Library

Panel Discussion: VA Payments and NYC Landlords

Moderator Phoebe Gavin discusses an audience question about VA payments being counted as income by NYC landlords with panelists Lee Covino, Coco Culhane, Brett Morash, Tireak Tulloch, and Vadim Panasyuk.

Forum on NYC Veterans Policy

Presented by the NYC Veterans Alliance
July 28, 2015 - New York Public Library

Panel Discussion: VA Home Loans

Moderator Phoebe Gavin discusses an audience question about using VA home loans in NYC with panelists Lee Covino, Coco Culhane, Brett Morash, Tireak Tulloch, and Vadim Panasyuk.

Forum on NYC Veterans Policy

Presented by the NYC Veterans Alliance
July 28, 2015 - New York Public Library

Panel Discussion: Military Reservists

Moderator Phoebe Gavin discusses the unique challenges faced by Reservists with panelists Lee Covino, Coco Culhane, Brett Morash, Tireak Tulloch, and Vadim Panasyuk.

Forum on NYC Veterans Policy

Presented by the NYC Veterans Alliance
July 28, 2015 - New York Public Library

Panel Discussion: Women Veterans

Moderator Phoebe Gavin discusses an audience question about women veterans with panelists Lee Covino, Coco Culhane, Brett Morash, Tireak Tulloch, and Vadim Panasyuk.

Forum on NYC Veterans Policy

Presented by the NYC Veterans Alliance
July 28, 2015 - New York Public Library

John Oliver at the Forum on NYC Veterans Policy

We are very excited to announce a special guest at Tuesday’s FORUM ON NYC VETERANS POLICY:

John Oliver, Emmy-winning writer, renowned comedian, and host of the Peabody Award-winning HBO news-satire show, Last Week Tonight, will make a special appearance on Tuesday evening. A great supporter of veterans causes, John has volunteered his time to entertain troops and veterans, and to perform at charity fundraisers benefiting veterans and their families. John is the husband of an Army veteran who served in Iraq, and is a valued member of our NYC veterans community. We greatly appreciate his appearance at our event to highlight the importance of NYC veterans policy in the lives of our city’s veterans, service members, and their families.

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Announcement! July 28: FORUM ON NYC VETERANS POLICY

Fellow Veterans, Friends, and Colleagues,

On Tuesday, July 28, the NYC Veterans Alliance is proud to present the FORUM ON NYC VETERANS POLICY at the New York Public Library:

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"Soft Rollout" of IDNYC's Veteran Designation - Go Get One, But Be Prepared

The good news is that NYC government has finally implemented the veteran designation we were promised last year by Mayor de Blasio, and that we’ve gotten exactly what we asked for in the Change is Essential report we released last month, plus a several additional benefits. We appreciate all the work that MOVA and many dedicated officials at City Hall and the City Council put into what we believe to be a very solid program that recognizes NYC veterans in accordance with the City Charter. This is a good thing.

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Progress, Although More to Do on Veteran Homelessness in NYC

Even as overall homelessness in NYC has risen to an all-time high under Mayor de Blasio, there has been considerable progress in reducing veteran homelessness due to robust resources from the federal government to tackle the problem nationwide. A Capital New York article this week touted NYC's successes in reducing veteran homelessness:

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Veteran ID Cards: Feds Ahead of NYC?

Veterans have long wanted an easier way to prove their veteran status than carrying around copies of their DD214s, and it looks like the federal government is on the verge of passing legislation to create official veterans ID cards, separate from Veterans Health Administration ID cards issued only to veterans that meet eligibility requirements for health care. Read this morning's news story about this here.

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Oversight of NYC Funds Going to Veterans Organizations

Last week the City Council released the list of organizations to receive discretionary funds for Fiscal Year 2016 for providing veterans services. These are critical funds, and organizations have provided valuable direct assistance and services to veterans in NYC. These funds provided by the City Council are entirely separate from the budget of the Mayor's Office of Veterans Affairs (MOVA), and are not overseen in any formal way by MOVA.

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2016 Budget Increase for Veterans: Not Victory, But An Important Step Forward

Following pressure from the NYC Veterans Alliance, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, and veterans and advocates across NYC, our city government has responded by including more funding for veterans and veterans services in the 2016 budget. This is truly an important step forward, and we appreciate the many City Council members who pushed for the funding increase, and we appreciate that Mayor de Blasio has, at long last, finally supported these additions to the budget. But we must be clear: NYC still has a long way yet to go before we can declare victory.

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Update on Veterans Equality Act: Action Still Needed

Thanks to your encouragement of NY State Assembly members, the Veterans Equality Act passed the Assembly with only one dissenting vote, and will head to Governor Cuomo for him to sign. Although the bill passed unanimously in the NY State Senate and nearly unanimously in the Assembly--we could still see a repeat of what happened last fall when Mayor de Blasio lobbied against this earned benefit for veterans and the Governor vetoed it.

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