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.
Local advocates from Veteran Service Organizations such as the VFW, American Legion, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America have played a critical role in improving NYC government services, policies, and responsiveness to veterans. Other local advocates have also played a vital role in shaping policy. It must be noted here that none of the advocates who raised their voice to offer constructive criticism of Mayor de Blasio's administration's slow action and need for improvement on veteran-related matters have been included among the VAB appointees. This sends a clear and unfortunate message that criticism is not welcome.
Nevertheless, we applaud the reform of the VAB and we look forward to getting to know this new group of veterans chosen to represent the NYC veterans community. We encourage all veterans in NYC to get to know them as well and to reach out with their concerns so that all of our voices are truly heard.
The new VAB appointees and their contact information will be posted here: http://www.nyc.gov/html/vets/html/advisory_board/members.shtml