Our Latest

Change is Essential: Report on the 2015 Survey of NYC Veterans Policy Priorities

The NYC Veterans Alliance is pleased to announce the release of our new report:

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Stop the Closure of 12 West at the Brooklyn VA Medical Center on July 1

Time is short, so we have to act quickly.

Please do the following as soon as possible:

  1. Sign our petition of the Obama administration.
  2. Contact Senator Schumer and Senator Gillibrand.
  3. Contact your Representative in Congress.

We need to let our representatives in Washington, D.C., know that IT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE to reduce access to inpatient hospitalization for New York City's veterans for the simple reason that veterans' healthcare is too expensive. Please make your voice heard and demand that the Veterans Health Administration NOT close 12 West at the Brooklyn VAMC on July 1. The VHA must seek other outcomes and solutions that do not limit access to healthcare for veterans who choose the Brooklyn VAMC as their local and preferred healthcare facility.

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Remarks at City Hall: NYC Veterans Alliance Stands with the Public Advocate

Earlier today we joined NYC Public Advocate Letitia "Tish" James, Paul Rieckhoff and members of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), and other veterans and veteran advocates at City Hall to call on Mayor de Blasio to support the proper resourcing of veterans affairs for NYC. Our delivered remarks were abbreviated due to time constraints, but below are the full prepared remarks for today's event:

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Testimony on PTSD Awareness

On June 16, Kristen L. Rouse testified at the City Council Veterans Committee hearing on a proposed resolution to recognize the month of June as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month in New York City, which parallels a U.S. Senate resolution recognizing the same nationally. Last week we stood with Veterans Committee Chair Eric Ulrich, MOVA Commissioner Loree Sutton, and veteran leaders and advocates on the steps of City Hall, united in the cause of supporting this important resolution. We further offered the following testimony:

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"No Veteran Should Ever Feel Alone with PTSD"

Yesterday we stood together at City Hall for the cause of PTSD awareness. Council Member Eric Ulrich, who chairs the City Council Veterans Committee, has introduced a resolution declaring June as PTSD awareness month for the city, which parallels a U.S. Senate resolution recognizing the same nationally.
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Declaring June 10 as PTSD Awareness Day in NYC

June is nationally recognized as PTSD Awareness Month, and tomorrow representatives from NYC government and the NYC veterans community will meet on the steps of City Hall to declare June 10 as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Day in New York City.

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Memorial Day and Mayor de Blasio’s Missed Opportunities

On Memorial Day, many of us took time out to remember fallen comrades and the many more we lost later to the physical and mental injuries that followed them from the battlefield. Whether we chose to attend a commemorative parade or ceremony, or decorate military graves, or reflect as we enjoyed time with friends and family—this was a holiday for collective remembrance. It then came as a surprise that the de Blasio administration would choose Memorial Day to run an op-ed in the NY Daily News stating for the first time that the administration explicitly does not support the creation of a Department of Veterans Affairs for NYC.

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Response to Mayor de Blasio's Veterans Press Event

Last night we were pleased to see the Mayor’s office press release saying he will meet this morning for the first time since taking office eighteen months ago with the city’s Veterans Advisory Board along with senior military leaders in honor of Fleet Week and Memorial Day. This is a positive first step toward bridging the divide between Mayor de Blasio and the 220,000+ veterans and the 250,000 more spouses, dependents, and other family members of veterans who reside in NYC.

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Testimony on Oversight of the Mayor's Office of Veterans Affairs

Today at City Hall, the City Council Committee on Veterans, led by Council Member Eric Ulrich, was a hearing on oversight of the Mayor's Office of Veterans Affairs (MOVA). Commissioner Loree Sutton promised specifics, but did not deliver--unless we consider the litany of organizations and agencies she listed at length as having met with since September to be her promised specifics. She referred numerous times to a "strategic plan" for the administration to end veteran homelessness, to address veterans mental health, and to place veterans into good employment. But the Commissioner offered no specifics--no dedicated staff, no amount of funding, and no timelines--and no reference to any printed or published plan that citizens might expect to see from government officials.

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Testimony on Veterans Liaisons and NYC Employment of Veterans and Military Reservists

On April 29, Kristen L. Rouse testified at the City Council Veterans Committee hearing that discussed the oversight of Veterans Liaisons appointed by each NYC government agency. It was discussed at the hearing that the role of agency Veterans Liaisons is unclear. In 2013, when Mayor Bloomberg signed this requirement into law, he stated:
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Statement at Veterans Advisory Board Meeting

Last night was the first NYC Veterans Advisory Board meeting ever open to the public. We applaud the important reforms that led to this meeting, and to the appointment of new VAB members. Previous members of the VAB were present, as well as new members. The meeting was chaired by the Commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Veterans Affairs (MOVA), Loree Sutton.

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Remarks at City Hall: NYC Veterans Alliance Calls on Mayor de Blasio to Be Our Mayor, Too

Remarks delivered by Kristen L. Rouse in front of City Hall on April 16, 2015:

New York City has an incredible history of taking pride in its military and veterans—from the battles fought on this soil in the American Revolution to the hundreds of thousands of troops who packed on crowded ships in New York Harbor, bound for wars overseas—to now being home of the largest Veterans Day parade in the country. New Yorkers have always been proud of their veterans—even providing City-subsidized housing like Peter Cooper Village in Stuyvesant Town, where tens of thousands of veterans returning from World War II and their families benefited from the City’s effort to welcome veterans home from war and integrate them as vital citizens of the greatest city in the world.

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NYC VETERANS UNITY RALLY

Fellow Veterans and Supporters,

I have an urgent request: If at all possible, please join me and other veteran advocates on the steps in front of City Hall TOMORROW, April 16th at 3:00PM for a rally to call on Mayor de Blasio, the City Council, and the rest of our City government to do more for NYC’s veterans. We’ll be present with IAVA, VFW, VVA, and other important advocates—and it’s vital that we show both unity and strength in numbers.

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Statement on New Appointees to the Veterans Advisory Board

This morning Mayor de Blasio will release the names of the new appointees to the Veterans Advisory Board (VAB), a long-overdue measure following important reforms passed by the City Council and signed by Mayor de Blasio last month. While we are pleased to see fresh faces on the VAB--including our own NYC Veterans Alliance advisory board member, former Army combat medic and current student veteran advocate Samuel Innocent--we are disappointed that important veteran advocates from the NYC community are not represented among the appointees.

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Testimony on Veterans' Education Through SUNY Credits Act

On March 19, the NYC Veterans Alliance was honored to have Samuel Innocent testify in support of the NYC Council's resolution calling upon the New York State Legislature to pass and the Governor to sign the Veterans' Education Through SUNY Credits Act. Innocent is a former Army sergeant and combat medic who has gone on to become an advocate for student veterans both as a student and now as a professional. He shared some of his powerful personal story in his testimony to illustrate the importance of legislation that ensures all NY State institutions properly grant credit where it is due for military education and experience.

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Samuel Innocent testifies before the NYC Council on March 19, 2015

 

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Statement at City Council Speaker's Press Conference

Success!! Yesterday the NYC Council passed three bills (Ints. 611, 619, & 600) that the NYC Veterans Alliance pushed for, discussed at length, and testified on earlier this month. This was a proud day for us, and we were invited to attend Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito's press conference on these important reforms. Council Members Ulrich, Eugene, and Vallone all spoke in detail on these bills that they helped to develop with community input, and Council Speaker Mark-Viverito introduced Kristen Rouse to speak as a veteran advocate who helped with pushing these bills toward their final passage yesterday.

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Kristen Rouse speaking at City Hall alongside Council Speaker Mark-Viverito and Council Members Ulrich, Eugene, and Vallone.

 

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Testimony on Establishing Manhattan Veterans Treatment Court

On Wednesday, the NYC Council held a hearing on NYC's Veterans Treatment Courts in City Hall's Committee Room. Aynisa Leonardo, an experienced clinician who has served veterans for more than eight years, and who also has extensive experience with clients in the Veterans Treatment Courts operating in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, testified on behalf of the NYC Veterans Alliance, and represented your responses thus far on the 2015 Survey of NYC Veterans Priorities. It was a long, but important hearing, and Aynisa followed testimony by a number of judges and government officials, to include Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and a U.S. Army veteran asked to read the statement of Public Advocate Letitia James in support of establishing a Veterans Treatment Court in Manhattan.

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Testimony on Reforming the VAB and Tracking Veterans Receiving NYC Services

You've responded to the 2015 Survey of NYC Veterans Policy Priorities, and your voice has already been heard by public officials. Yesterday was the first-ever testimony of the NYC Veterans Alliance in a City Council hearing, and we were definitely heard.

 

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