NYC Veterans Alliance, together with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Black Veterans for Social Justice, Veterans Mental Health Coalition of NYC, CUNY PROVE Program, and Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 72, call upon NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson to appoint new, dedicated leadership to the NYC Council Veterans Committee in the wake of former Chair Chaim Deutsch's pleading guilty to tax fraud and subsequent expulsion from the Council.
The Committee on Veterans has jurisdiction over the matters pertaining to New York City’s Department of Veterans’ Services and other veteran focused issues. A new Chair of the Veterans Committee, committed to sound, ethical leadership, must be appointed immediately to develop meaningful solutions to the issues impacting our city's veterans and their families.
Prior to Deutsch’s expulsion, there remained barriers to NYC veteran advocates providing public input during previous Veterans Committee Hearings. Stakeholders, including NYC Veterans Alliance, weren't permitted to testify in public hearings, due to what staff explained as "new procedures" for virtual hearings that were not communicated to stakeholders. This costly communication failure created unnecessary barriers that prevented key input on the work of the Committee. The contributions and feedback of stakeholders is paramount to communicating an accurate portrayal of how resources are being utilized for veterans.
We urge Speaker Johnson to ensure the next Veterans Committee Chair removes barriers to stakeholder participation in public Committee hearings and ensures that individuals and organizations wishing to present testimony are able to do so.
We further call on Speaker Johnson to ensure the next Veterans Committee Chair holds a comprehensive hearing to gain a full picture of the needs of NYC veterans and their families in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our veterans were not provided the leadership and representation required of former Chair Deutsch to bring resolution to the matters important to them, so we request this be the primary focus of the incoming Chair.
We look forward to working with the Council as we create a roadmap to recovery for our NYC veteran community and their families.
James Fitzgerald, Deputy Director
NYC Veterans Alliance
Jeremy Butler, CEO
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
Wendy McClinton, CEO
Black Veterans for Social Justice
Joe Hunt, Director
Veterans Mental Health Coalition of NYC
Leora Shudofsky, Co-Director
CUNY PROVE Program
Danny Friedman, President
Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 72